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Occupational Therapists Help Prevent Falls

by Published On: Mar 14, 2012Updated On: May 07, 2012

For Americans who are 65 years and older, falls are a real danger. In fact, falls are the leading cause of injury, accidental death and disability. 

The statistics are alarming: More than 40% of those hospitalized from hip fractures, for example, can’t return home and are unable to live independently again.

The good news is that occupational therapists can help prevent falls because of their training and expertise.

There are quite a few common causes of falls and an occupational therapist can help identify them. New or unfamiliar locations, inappropriate footwear, oversized or misplaced furniture and interruptions while walking can all contribute to a patient’s falling. 

An occupational therapist can help people implement prevention practices to decrease their risk of falling.

How can occupational therapists help prevent falls? 

  • Help patients stay fit and active to maintain overall vigor and endurance.
  • Check a home’s lighting, making sure all areas are adequately illuminated, especially dark hallways and bathrooms, where throw rugs can cause trips and falls.
  • Remove throw rugs or secure them carefully to the floor.
  • Install nightlights in dark areas, like the hallway, kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Help patents identify distractions that could cause a fall while walking, like talking on the phone or carrying bulky items and walking at the same time.
  • Advise on proper footwear. Wearing flat, nonslip shoes are especially important in unfamiliar or dark locations.
  • Arrange the home’s furniture so that there is a clear walking path.
  • Ensure that doorways and hallways are large enough to get through with walking aids, if any are used.
  • Install railings in hallways and stairs and grab bars in the bathroom and shower to prevent slipping.
  • Install nonslip strips or a rubber mat on the floor of the tub or shower.
  • Help patients recognize their limitations. If there are tasks they can’t complete with ease, encourage them get help and avoid completing tasks without proper assistance to prevent falls.

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