An individual’s ability to walk with confidence and balance decreases over time. This results in falls.
There are many factors affecting why we fall, and there are many interventions to help address them.We offer the following services to help.
- Occupational Therapy
- Home Modifications
- Assistive Equipment
Did you know that the leading cause of hospitalisation for people over 65 is falls? At least one in four elderly people have a fall each year. With the right help, you can reduce the falls rate for your loved ones or at your aged care facility.
The Physiotherapists at Total Health Physio have been delivering falls prevention strategies and rehabilitation since 2011.
Who Can Access Falls Prevention
We work with adults, older adults and people with a disability. An appropriate time to contact us for this service would be when someone is:
- Recovering from near-fall
- Recovering from a recent fall
- Uncomfortable in their environment
- Is feeling their walking ability has declined
- Experiencing sudden freezing
- Experiencing balance issues
- Feels fearful when walking
- Feels weakness
We are often engaged by elderly individuals, their families, NDIS participants, facility management, local area coordinators and GPs.
Why We Fall
Essentially, as we age, our ability to maintain our balance reduces. This leaves elderly people vulnerable to falls. As our walking characteristics change over time, our balance is compromised and we compensate in other ways.
There are many contributing factors that can reduce our balance, subsequently increasing the risk of falls, including:
- Reduced strength in lower limbs
- Changes with walking and decreased balance
- Vision problems
- Foot pain or poor footwear
- Hazards such as broken or uneven surfaces/steps, throw rugs and clutter
- Usage of medicines (i.e. sedatives, antidepressants & tranquilisers)
Not only is this a physical hazard to ourselves, but some may also begin to feel conscious of their walking and lack confidence as a result which can have a detrimental effect on a person’s outlook and socialisation.
Falls Prevention Physiotherapy
Our dedicated physiotherapists help reduce the risk of falls by:
- Post fall assessments and reviews
- Identifying risks (described lower on this page)
- Implementing an individualised strength and balance exercise program
- Improving the motor pattern in a person’s walking
- Expanding on work completed by our OTs
- Reviewing the home environment
Our dedicated team of caring Physiotherapists predominantly provide falls prevention services for individuals in private residences, specialist disability accommodation, aged care facilities and retirement homes.
Falls Prevention Occupational Therapy
Our OTs help primarily with –
- The prescription of assistive equipment
- Provision of comprehensive functional and environmental assessments
- Planning and management of home modifications
- Risk assessment
We may suggest changes to the environment such as rails for stairs, widening access in the laundry, chair lifts, bathroom modifications and simple declutter.
Commencing Falls Prevention with Total Health Physio
The first point of contact is a referral from someone seeking assistance for an elderly loved one or facility residents, we will aim to book a meeting at a mutually beneficial time.
The first conversation is an introduction so we can learn a bit about the patient’s history and gain an understanding of their condition or comorbidities.
Our professional team attend the residence to conduct an initial assessment.
We’ll look at the environment, physical capacity (i.e. mobility, balance, reflexes), as well as identify what assistive equipment may help. Most importantly, we’ll ascertain the meaningful goals the person would like to achieve!
Respecting Patient Choices
When working with vulnerable groups (such as NDIS participants and elderly patients), one thing we’ve learned is to listen. People want to have a voice, and be listened to.
As an example, many people are too proud to begin using a walking frame.
We respect the decisions of our patients and accommodate their requirements as best we can.
We advise evidence-based strategies that will lead to the best outcomes for their health and wellbeing.
Falls Prevention FAQ
How is progress monitored?
At the end of the initial assessment, we’ll work together to come up with a treatment plan of how we can work together to achieve meaningful goals.
The treatment plan is how we make the most difference! We also provide an end of month progress report to family members so they are up to date about the work that has been happening with their loved ones. This report will show our progress and outcome measures.
We are very honest with our services, if we can make a difference, or if we feel our therapy is no longer viable, we will advise that.
Can you share a falls prevention case?
We met a lovely lady who had prior exposure to fall prevention strategies, despite this, she had three falls within a six month period in her nursing home.
Her concerned and caring daughter engaged Total Health Physio to work with her mother and our wonderful Physiotherapist Devana Thevanesan provided the service.
Together, they completed regular rehabilitation based exercise therapy, strength work and fall strategies which included appropriate footwear, environmental decluttering and the prescription of a more appropriate walking frame.
This improved the patient’s confidence in walking, and of course, overall quality of life.
We’ve been working with her for over a year, and thankfully, she hasn’t had a single fall in this time!
Why is Total Health Physio well-placed to help with falls prevention?
In 2018, Total Health Physio expanded its scope of practice by employing Occupational Therapists who are specialised in terms of their ability to provide home and environmental assessments to further reduce the many risk factors associated with falling.
Total Health Physio has helped form and is part of falls committees at aged care facilities.
We have introduced new initiatives (i.e. stickers on staff lanyards and staff education) to increase awareness of falls.
I don't own my property. Can I still get falls prevention Physiotherapy and OT at home?
Yes of course. From an OT perspective, most of the work we perform is low-impact, not structural.
If the home modifications we suggest are structural, we are aware of the appropriate agencies and applicable legislation to manage the project.
Can you give an example of how you maintain awareness of current falls prevention evidence?
Total Health Physio has a representative that attends the Australian Physiotherapy Conference bi-annualy when it is run:
In 2019, we attended the APA conference and we heard from leading researchers from Monash University. The study described how people with osteoarthritis (OA) are at an increased risk of falls.
People can feel the beginnings of OA in their late fifties and early sixties. This is interesting, because people with OA do not necessarily need to be elderly to be of higher falls risk. There was further evidence and information regarding strategies and exercises that apply to OA patients.
How long is the engagement?
After our initial assessment, we will agree upon how many sessions per month would be ideal to achieve your goals.
There are, of course, goals which are achievable in a relatively small amount of time, to lifelong goals.
As an example, we may suggest three times per week for the first month, to see what changes we can make. From this point, we may reduce the frequency, or stop altogether based on re-assessments and what the goal is.
In some instances, our patients develop such a strong rapport with our physiotherapists they don’t want them to stop visiting.
This is especially the case with our caring team member Kevin Kou, he has a very special way with the elderly.
There is a level of companionship and other benefits that people love and find beneficial from the care given by the physiotherapist.
When there is a positive response to Physiotherapy, we usually continue as long as we are making a difference and achieving our goals.