|Health Factors:||Quality of Care Community Safety|
|Decision Makers:||State Government Healthcare Professionals & Advocates Public Health Professionals & Advocates|
|Population Reach:||10-19% of WI's population|
|Impact on Disparities:|
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Risk assessments that gauge an individual’s risk of falling allow providers to personalize fall prevention interventions based on that individual’s needs. Such assessments are typically provided to older adults by health professionals such as registered nurses or physicians and can include a functional assessment, balance and gait assessments, and/or exercise assessments. Following assessment, individuals are provided multifactorial interventions designed to reduce their poersonal fall risk, which may include exercise (i.e., balance, strength, and endurance training), home or environmental modification, medication optimization, education, or vitamin D supplementation. Patients can also be referred to specialists such as physiotherapists for further care (Cochrane-Cameron 2012). Falls can lead to long-term physical injuries, increased risk of early death, and psychological concerns such as fear of falling and loss of confidence (CDC-Falls, Cochrane-Gillespie 2012).
There is strong evidence that individual risk assessments and personalized fall prevention interventions reduce the rate of falls among older adults in hospitals, especially those with longer lengths of stay, and among those in community settings (Cochrane-Cameron 2012, Cochrane-Gillespie 2012). Such interventions may also reduce the risk of falls among older hospital patients and appear to reduce fall-related injuries in nursing care facilities (Cochrane-Cameron 2012). The combination of interventions varies by individual and by setting; additional evidence is needed to determine the most effective combination for each setting.
As of July 2014, 11 states have laws that require funding for a variety of risk assessment and fall prevention activities in community, clinical, and nursing care settings. Some of these laws include provisions that incentivize primary care providers to integrate risk assessments and prevention activities into their practice (NCSL-Falls).
In 1991, the Wisconsin Falls Prevention Initiative (FPI) was developed to reduce falls, and fall-related complications across the state. In 2014, the coalition included health care providers, researchers, educators, and state and local government officials. FPI promotes the implementation of tested fall prevention interventions, including Sure-Step, a multifactorial, individualized intervention for older adults conducted by a physical therapist or a registered nurse (WI DHS-Falls).
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