Parkinson’s Disease: Reducing the Risk for Falls

| Dr. Kristen Reed

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, neurologic disease that develops slowly over years and affects the body’s ability to move. Individuals who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease may experience the following symptoms:1,2

  • Tremor, mainly at rest
  • Bradykinesia, or slowness of movement
  • Rigid muscles, or stiffness
  • Impaired posture
  • Loss of automatic movements
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Gait and balance problems, including freezing of gait, decreased gait speed, and weakness

All of these symptoms can affect an individual’s stability and potentially increase their risk for falls. Studies show that 45-68% of people with Parkinson’s disease will fall each year, with 50-68% falling recurrently.3 Falls can lead to increased disability, loss of independence, decreased quality of life, restriction in ability to perform activities of daily living, increased fear of falling, increased stress on individuals and their caregivers, and potential injuries.3 

Fortunately, there are steps to take in order to reduce the risk for falls and therapy can provide a huge role in reducing this risk by assisting with the following:3

  • Creating an exercise program to improve strength, improve balance, and reduce rigidity in order to help maintain mobility and reduce instability
  • Improving posture in order to maintain balance and improve cardiovascular function
  • Teaching different movement strategies to ease difficulty of everyday tasks and improve safety when performing
  • Instructing in how to modify walking in order to reduce risk for falls and normalize gait pattern 
  • Providing an assistive device in order to improve stability when ambulating, educate on how to properly use the assistive device, & adjust these devices in order to be the correct height (e.g. 2 wheeled walker, 4 wheeled walker, UStep walker, wheelchair)
  • Modifying the environment to reduce hazards within the home
  • Educating on how to transfer safely off of the floor
  • Learning tips to overcome freezing when it occurs through use of visual or auditory cues
  • Educating caregivers on how to provide assist with proper body mechanics in order to keep themselves safe
  • Advising on appropriate footwear in order to provide increased stability

If you are suffering from Parkinson’s disease and are trying to reduce your risk for falls, contact Live Your Life today so that we can help to alleviate your symptoms, create a safe environment, and improve your overall quality of life!

Dr. Kristen Reed

Dr. Kristen Reed, DPT, GRS, CLT graduated in 2011 from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a B.S. in Kinesiology degree. She went on to graduate with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from St. Catherine University (2015) and completed the Geriatric Clinical Residency program from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities in 2016. She has spent her career working with primarily geriatrics in the Transitional Care/ Memory Care/ Long Term Care settings. Dr, Reed loves working with geriatrics and is passionate about helping them improve their quality of life. She loves being a therapist and watching her clients reach their goals.

She is kept busy with her husband and young daughter. She enjoys spending time with friends and family as much as possible. Her favorite activities are hiking in the summer and downhill skiing in the winter.


1“What is Parkinson’s?” Parkinson’s Foundation, April 5, 2021,

2“Parkinson’s disease.” Mayo Clinic, April 5, 2021,

3Pelicioni PHS, Menant JC, Latt MD, and Lord SR. Falls in Parkinson’s Disease Subtypes: Risk Factors, Locations and Circumstances. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2019, 16, 2216.

4“Motor symptoms: Falls.” About Parkinson’s, EPDA, Aprill 5, 2021,

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