First Day of Fall Marks Fall Prevention Awareness
Occupational therapy practitioners work with clients in their homes and communities to maximize safety and independence
BETHESDA, MD — Falls are the leading cause of injury and accidental death in adults over the age of 65. Falls and the fear of falling can cause decreased independence and disability. Clutter, inappropriate footwear, poor balance, distractions, and tripping hazards can all contribute to a stumble or fall leading to serious injury and even death. Occupational therapy practitioners play an essential role in reducing fall risk by addressing the physical, cognitive, and environmental factors that can lead to a fall.
“A key focus of occupational therapy is looking at the person’s environmental fit,” says Karen Smith, OT, CAPS, Practice Associate for the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). “If the home or other environment is not supporting the person’s abilities, the OT can provide an assessment and recommendations to make it safer and encourage participation in meaningful activities.”
This year’s Fall Prevention Awareness Day is Sept. 22, 2012 — the first day of fall.
Occupational therapy is a skilled health, rehabilitation, and educational service that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Every day across the U.S., occupational therapy practitioners work with older adults and caregivers to educate them on strategies and behaviors to reduce fall risk and facilitate maximum independence. This may include recommending and using home modifications and assistive technology to support aging in place.
An occupational therapy assessment and intervention might include:
Interviewing the client about their daily routines and difficulties with daily activities.
Reviewing the entire home to ensure easy and safe navigation and access to items used regularly.
- Conducting an activity analysis to recommend ways to safety continue activities or modify movements to enhance confidence.
Problem solving with the client about safer ways to accomplish tasks.
Providing specific recommendations for modifications to the environment or suggesting assistive technology or adaptive equipment.
Creating a plan for accessing seasonal items stored in hard-to-reach places.
Recommending arranging furniture so that there is plenty of room to maneuver and to create sturdy balance-catching points throughout the home.
Recommending removing or firmly securing throw rugs.
Recommending locations for additional railings and grab bars.
Recommending appropriate treatment of surfaces that pose a slipping risk such as installation of nonslip strips or rubber mats in tubs and showers.
Evaluating the home’s lighting and adding lighting to dimly lit areas.
Ensuring that the client is able to bend to wipe up spills that could pose a fall risk.
Occupational therapy practitioners also work with clients to safely increase physical conditioning to avoid falls with a focus on activities that the client enjoys. Washing the car or gardening can increase strength, walking can increase endurance, and carrying shopping bags can increase balance.
The American Occupational Therapy Association offers tips to reduce fall risk or tips for making your home safer. To learn more, visit www.aota.org.
To schedule an interview with an occupational therapy practitioner who specializes in fall prevention and home modification, call Media Relations Manager Katie Riley, 301-652-6611, ext. 2963, or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1917, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents the professional interests and concerns of more than 140,000 occupational therapists, assistants, and students nationwide. The Association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards including accreditations, and serving as an advocate to improve health care. Based in Bethesda, Md., AOTA’s major programs and activities are directed toward promoting the professional development of its members and assuring consumer access to quality services so patients can maximize their individual potential. For more information, go to http://www.aota.org/.