• September 14, 2015 /  Basics

    This is from the Home Care Assistance website: http://homecareassistance.com/expert-advice-on-how-to-reduce-fall-riskFalling

    Q: What are some of the recognizable signs that an individual is at-risk for a fall?

    A: The common fall risk assessments are a good place to start. Following the completion of these assessments, I would look at the below list of questions to assess why the person was at risk, how at risk was he or she, and offer some suggestions about how to change the situation.

    • How many times can a person stand up and sit down well?  (This shows his/her balance and strength)
    • How far can a person reach without moving his or her feet?  (This shows balance and accommodation to loss of balance)
    • How well does a person stand – how does he or she get started and how steady is he or she once up? (This demonstrates his/her ability to plan movements and accommodation to change)
    • Can the person get up off the floor well?  (This single exercise might make the most difference in confidence, strength, endurance and balance as well as confidence for the client, caregiver or family)
    • Can the person roll and change positons on the bed well? (These moves help people remember how to move well, maintaining motor cognitive skills and motor memory)
    • How clear is the floor where he or she walks and what is the quality of the things the person hangs on to walking around?
    • How well can he or she see changes in walkways such as steps or bumps?  How is his or her vision and the person’s ability to use their vision (e.g. looking around a room)?
    • How variable is his or her skill level when it comes to walking based on fatigue, blood pressure, hunger, medication, pain, etc.?

    Q: Any other thoughts?

    A: It is important to understand that strength is not enough to maintain balance. Engaging in meaningful, active tasks is one way an occupational therapist can help people maintain balance. Routine exercises tend to lack interest and effectiveness. However, exercises are a good start and more effective if the person keeps them up. Another way to start working on balance is to “just stand up” because once the person is able to stand more easily, the more likely he or she is to be active, which is the best exercise of all.

    Julie Groves, Occupational Therapist (OTR/L), graduated with a degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington and has over 30 years of professional experience in occupational therapy. Groves currently serves on the Board of Coda Alliance, Silicon Valley Community Coalition for End-of-Life Care and is a regular speaker at the San Jose State Occupational Therapy Department. Her awards include the Occupational therapy Association of California President Award (1991) and Special Contribution Award for the Santa Clara Chapter OT Association (1993), and she is a Bay Area leader in the field of occupational therapy.  She was just nominated for the Occupational Therapy Association of California’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

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