In Fresno County, 75 percent of injuries to seniors age 65 and older are caused by falls. The Department of Physical Therapy at Fresno State is working to reduce the risk with its Senior Awareness and Fall Education (SAFE) Central Valley Coalition program.
The program holds balance screenings for older adults twice per semester. The next screening (by appointment only) will be from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2, at the Gait, Balance and Mobility Research Education and Training Center (1625 E. Shaw Ave., Suites 146 and 155). The screening will help assess the strength, balance and risk for falling for 24 clients.
Formed in 2011, the mission of SAFE is to increase awareness of the physical, psychological and economic impact of falls on individuals — and to train current and future medical professionals about the importance of early screenings and intervention.
“Falls are often multi-factorial and therefore require an integrated approach to identify the best intervention,” said Dr. Peggy Trueblood, founder of SAFE and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy. “Research has shown that interprofessional education improves health outcomes in patients and enhances the students’ knowledge and skills of other health care workers. It will prepare our students for interprofessional, collaborative practice.”
The hour-long assessments will be completed by 50 physical therapy, nursing and kinesiology students.
SAFE coordinator Ashley Hart said the team approach is essential to reducing the risk factors of falling.
“Seldom is a fall caused by one factor,” Hart said. “Therefore, the approach is to identify risk factors. In the community setting, older adults who are prone to falls due to chronic conditions require an integrated approach to care because it is impossible for one discipline to adequately identify and address all of the client care issues and risk factors of falls.”
Nursing students will complete a medical screening of the client, including health history, a blood pressure check and cognitive screening.
Based on the findings, nursing students will remain in contact with some clients by providing individualized home safety visits in their residences throughout the semester.
After the health screening is completed, kinesiology students perform the strength testing for agility. At that time, clients will also meet with physical therapy students who perform tests for gait, strength, balance and leg strength. This includes testing clients for functional balance, sensory impairments and motor impairments.
There are no additional openings for Wednesday’s screening, but due do demand SAFE will offer two FallProof balance exercise classes in the spring semester. There will also be two more balance screenings. For more information, contact Ashley Hart at 559.278.7539.