OccupationalTherapy.com Phone: 866-782-9924


Why Should Occupational Therapists Be Involved In The Treatment Of Falls?

Krista Covell-Pierson, OTR/L, BCB-PMD

May 9, 2022

Share:

Question

Why should occupational therapists be involved in the treatment of falls?

Answer

Less than half the people tell their doctor when they fall. Conditions that contribute to falling include:

  • Lower body weakness
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Medications
  • Vision problems
  • Foot pain
  • Poor footwear
  • Home hazards

The big question is, why should an occupational therapy professional be involved in fall prevention? I did not share the fall statistics to scare you or sensationalize the issue, but these numbers should be part of your client and clinician education so that they can see the impact. Again, if this presentation helps one person, it is worth it.

Less than half the people tell their doctor that they have had a fall. We are fortunate as therapists that we get to spend so much time with our clients and can establish rapport and trust. So if a patient does not tell you right away that they have had falls, this information may be shared over time. We need to massage those conversations so that revealing fall information does not appear to be a checkmark on their record. Many people fear what it means if they tell their healthcare professional that they have had a fall.

Some of the conditions that contribute to falls are lower body weakness, a vitamin D deficiency, certain medications, including those over-the-counter, problems with vision, foot pain, poor footwear, and home hazards. We are skilled at activity analysis and equipment recommendations. Thus, the home hazard piece certainly falls in OT's wheelhouse.

  • According to the AOTA, “Occupational therapy practitioners possess the critical skills needed to address fall prevention with older adults.”
  • Skillset includes:
    • Reviewing the context
    • Evaluating client limitations and strengths
    • Interventions targeting improved abilities
    • Modifying homes
    • Changing patterns and behaviors

Beyond the fact that we are already in the picture and assessing these things, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and other credible sources say that occupational therapy practitioners possess the critical skills needed to address fall prevention with older adults. Print that out and hang it up in your rehab gym or home care office or use it in your marketing to physicians.

Based on research, the AOTA says that falls are multifactorial. Falls are influenced by conditions within the individual, the environment, and the interaction between the two. The most successful fall prevention initiatives use multifaceted approaches. OT practitioners are skilled at evaluating and addressing influences from the person, their activity, roles and routines, and the environment to maximize independence. We link the client's goals and priorities with modifications and adaptations that support their ability to participate in meaningful activities. This is the hallmark of occupational therapy.

Many times facilities have a falls team, but often occupational therapy is not represented. It would be beneficial if OT and PT were both automatically referred in fall cases, and sometimes we have to educate our interdisciplinary teams on that. Often, people fall because they are doing things that are meaningful or everyday tasks, and we can work on that. I have a personal example of that. My mom was at my house when I was out of town. My dog had an accident on our rug in the front room. She went outside to clean it and fell. On the same weekend, she fell over a baby swing on the way to the bathroom because it is not usually there. She had two falls on the weekend doing things that were regular tasks. We had to go back to clear pathways. It is important to review the context of the fall.

We already look at limitations and strengths, but now we need to look keenly at what caused the fall. My mom can continue to take things outside to clean or carry heavy items, but we need to ensure that she is doing that safely. We already modify homes and are good at changing patterns and behaviors. 


krista covell pierson

Krista Covell-Pierson, OTR/L, BCB-PMD

Occupational therapist and entrepreneur, Krista Covell-Pierson is the founder and owner of Covell Care and Rehabilitation, LLC. Krista created Covell Care and Rehabilitation to improve the quality of services available for clients of all ages living in the community through a one-of-a-kind mobile outpatient practice which aims to improve the lives of clients and clinicians alike. Krista attended Colorado State University receiving degrees in social work and occupational therapy. She has worked in various settings including hospitals, home health, rehabilitation centers and skilled nursing. Through her private practice, Krista created a model that she teaches other therapists looking to start their own business. She has extensive experience as a fieldwork educator and received the Fieldwork Educator of the Year Award from Colorado State University. Krista served as the President of the Occupational Therapy Association of Colorado for two years. She presents to groups of professionals and community members on a regular basis and has a heart to help others become the best version of themselves. 


Related Courses

Incontinence: Practical Tips for the Occupational Therapy Practitioner (Part 1)
Presented by Krista Covell-Pierson, OTR/L, BCB-PMD
Video

Presenter

Krista Covell-Pierson, OTR/L, BCB-PMD
Course: #3609Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'This course will allow me to more fully serve my patients who struggle with inconvenience issues'   Read Reviews
This course teaches practical treatment interventions for the generalist practitioner. Strategies can be used in a variety of settings, including home health, skilled nursing facility, hospitals, and outpatient.

Incontinence: Practical Tips for the Occupational Therapy Practitioner (Part 2)
Presented by Krista Covell-Pierson, OTR/L, BCB-PMD
Video

Presenter

Krista Covell-Pierson, OTR/L, BCB-PMD
Course: #3610Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'This course will make me a better OT'   Read Reviews
This course is Part 2 of this series. Practitioners working in all settings will learn practical treatment interventions to address urinary and bowel incontinence.

Assessing And Preventing Falls At Home: A Practical Approach For The OT
Presented by Krista Covell-Pierson, OTR/L, BCB-PMD
Video

Presenter

Krista Covell-Pierson, OTR/L, BCB-PMD
Course: #5413Level: Intermediate2 Hours
  'Great instructor, knowledge and interesting delivery of content'   Read Reviews
Falls are the leading cause of injury to older adults, and occupational therapists need to step into the arena to help. This course guides OTs through practical assessments and treatment strategies to prevent falls, injuries, and hospitalizations.

Covid-19 With Older Adults: An Update
Presented by Krista Covell-Pierson, OTR/L, BCB-PMD
Text

Presenter

Krista Covell-Pierson, OTR/L, BCB-PMD
Course: #5494Level: Introductory2.5 Hours
  'Great ideas for providing care and explanations in memory care settings'   Read Reviews
Therapy practitioners serve an important role for older adults amidst COVID-19 as we address ADL, safety, quality of life, mental health, and other areas directly impacted by this virus. Our contribution to the at-risk population of older adults is important and invaluable.

OT Professionals and Home Health 101
Presented by Krista Covell-Pierson, OTR/L, BCB-PMD
Video

Presenter

Krista Covell-Pierson, OTR/L, BCB-PMD
Course: #3994Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'I am considering a change in practice area, and wanted to learn more about home health'   Read Reviews
This course will help OTR’s and COTA’s increase knowledge and confidence when working in the dynamic, and often chaotic, world of home health. OT professionals will learn the fundamentals and helpful, practical tips to enhance their home health experience with adult and older adult clients.

Our site uses cookies to improve your experience. By using our site, you agree to our Privacy Policy.