Preventing falls while using your mobility equipment

Preventing falls while using your mobility equipment

Preventing falls while using your mobility equipment

People primarily seek out mobility equipment to ensure their safety while living with certain health conditions or mobility concerns. For this reason, it is important to be mindful of many aspects within your environment so you can focus on maintaining optimal safety while using your mobility equipment. Individuals should be well-trained in the use of any medical equipment, ranging from commodes to power chairs to wheelchairs to walkers and rollators. Some individuals may have difficulty adequately using such equipment, which can greatly impair their safety. If this is the case, individuals should consult a medical professional to receive training on the safe and appropriate use of their equipment.

There are also other measures that individuals can take to prioritize their safety as they navigate all areas within their lives. Here are some of the ways to prevent falls while using your mobility equipment:

Remove all clutter from your environment

If you use a walker, rollator, power chair, or wheelchair, you should be sure that the floors and any other high-traffic areas within your home are free of all clutter. Clutter includes anything that can act as a barrier to your mobility, such as throw rugs, exposed wires, piles of boxes or clothing, bags, or containers. Items that are on the floor can get caught in the wheels of your mobility equipment, either causing an electronic malfunction or getting trapped in the spokes and causing your equipment to tip over.

Take advantage of vertical storage -- the right way

A common strategy for a clean, neat-looking house regardless of size is to take advantage of vertical space for storage and decoration purposes. Some basic examples include hanging up frames that may otherwise go on end tables, therefore freeing up table space for you to work, eat, or complete hobbies on. Another great way to use vertical space is for storage. Individuals should be diligent in keeping items safely stored. This includes securing clothing that is hanging on rods in closets and not overstuffing drawers or shelves in the bathroom, kitchen, pantry, or closet. These strategies will prevent items from falling out of storage. Falling items can either get trapped underneath your mobility equipment, impair your vision if they fall on you, or cause difficulty if you reach to the side in an attempt to catch the items.

Make adjustments as the need arises

Another cause of injury with mobility equipment is using ill-fitting devices. This may mean using a walker or rollator that is too short or tall for you, using a wheelchair with foot plates that don’t fit your legs, or using a power chair that you are unable to comfortably and safely sit in. These issues may be as simple as changing the height using levers, adding new add-ons (such as longer foot plates), or purchasing new mobility equipment that is specially-fitted for you by a mobility specialist.

These changes will firstly ensure that you remain safely seated or standing upright in order to use your mobility equipment. Additionally, they will allow you to be more comfortable and prevent injury by using ergonomic posture. Individuals can consult their physician, a rehabilitation professional such as an occupational therapist or physical therapist, or a mobility specialist if they need any assistance with making adjustments to their equipment.

Make regular repairs

Keeping your mobility equipment in good working order is one of the best and simplest ways to prevent falls. This means:

  • Regularly ensuring tires are filled and not punctured in any way

  • Checking that seating is not overly flat, torn, or missing inside stuffing

  • Ensuring your equipment is fully charged after each use and is able to hold a charge from your battery

  • Safely storing your equipment when not in use

  • Checking that the mechanisms of power chairs are fully functional

  • Preventing your equipment from overheating in the summer or in wet weather conditions

  • Using armrests and foot plates that are well-fitted to your body and readily secured to your mobility equipment

Many of these repairs can be made or prevented by regularly checking the status of your mobility equipment. Individuals can consult their physician, a rehabilitation professional such as an occupational therapist or physical therapist, or a mobility specialist if they need assistance with making routine repairs to their equipment.

Have regular vision and hearing tests

A key determination for the use of any mobility equipment is ensuring you have good vision and hearing. This is a good preventive measure to avoid any accidents that may occur as a result of poor safety awareness. Good vision, hearing, and other senses allow you to safely navigate your environment, which includes avoiding hazards and unforeseen obstacles, pointing out any equipment malfunctions, keeping their body parts safely away from any moving parts of the equipment, and being aware of poor posture and any other bodily positions that may cause injury.

Get plenty of sleep

One of the best ways to remain alert, avoid obstacles, and prevent falls is to get the right amount of sleep. Most medical professionals recommend 8 hours of sleep each night, or more, especially if you are suffering from an acute medical condition, recent surgery, or still-healing injury. Getting enough sleep is one of the best ways to give your body the energy it needs, while also keeping yourself free of injury and accidents such as falls.

Individuals who are at risk for falls should take measures such as these to keep themselves safe. This is especially the case for individuals who use a variety of mobility equipment, whether this may be walkers, rollators, power chairs, or wheelchairs. However, individuals who do not use these devices and still struggle with mobility concerns should also be aware of these considerations. Staying safe within your own environment is the ideal outcome for anyone using mobility equipment for any reason.

While these aspects are all action items that you can begin using right away, individuals who need assistance with repairs or adjustments at any point during the life of their equipment should consult a physician, rehab professional such as a therapist, or a mobility consultant.

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