RIVER FALLS, Wis.
A fall can devastate the safety, independence and sense of security of a senior in their own home.
To mark national Rehabilitation Awareness Week (Sept. 21-25), Courage Kenny Sports and Physical Therapy at River Falls Area Hospital is offering free falls prevention screenings to anyone concerned they are at risk of falling or who has fallen previously.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, falls are the leading cause of accidental death among people aged 65-plus in Wisconsin. The most recent statistics available for the state reflect an annual total of 30,342 Emergency Department visits, 11,980 hospitalizations and 789 deaths due to falls.
"A fall can result in a significant change in lifestyle and the cost – personal and financial – to a person can be considerable," said Kent Kittleson, PT, manager of the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute-River Falls. "By coming to this screening, someone may learn a few easy adjustments they could make to their home situation or daily routine and ultimately, potentially prevent a fall."
Risk factors for falling at home include:
- Age (65-plus are most likely to fall at home)
- One or more falls in the last year
- Vision issues
- Balance problems
- Taking more than three prescription medications
- Sensory issues with extremities
- Timid/uneven gait pattern when walking
- Alcohol and controlled substances
The free screenings at River Falls Area Hospital take five to 10 minutes and involve two short tests of a person’s gait and ability to stand up and sit down without using their arms. If an attendee is identified as at-risk, they may be referred to the hospital’s falls prevention program, which involves working with a physical and occupational therapist (and other professionals as appropriate) to tackle issues.
"Most of the time, what we try to do is work toward keeping them safe and in their home situation for as long as they can," said Cyndy Bayer, coordinator of the River Falls Area Hospital First Step falls prevention program. "The person that has fallen at least once in the past year is at highest risk of falling again."
Although the screenings, available at River Falls Area Hospital on Thursday, September 24 from 9 a.m.-noon are free, appointments are limited and reservations are requested. Please call 715-307-6060 to reserve a spot.