Multidisciplinary screening may help reduce elderly patients' risk for falls

LAS VEGAS – A multidisciplinary approach that screens for multiple factors helped identify fall risk in older adults, according to researcher at the American Academy of Physician Assistants 39th Annual  PA Meeting.

About one third of elderly patients experience a fall, with most experiencing adverse psychological and long-term physical consequences, Theresa J. Riethle, MS, PA-C, of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science (MCPH) in Worcester, Mass., said during a poster presentation here, noting that falls are the leading cause of death by injury in this age group.

“Fall prevention is an important topic that pharmacists, nurses, physical therapists and physician assistants should discuss with their patients that can have a tremendous impact on the older adult community,” Riethle said.

She and colleagues developed and conducted a health fair, the Let's Be Fall Free Senior Health Fair, to evaluate how well health screenings and educating older patients worked to prevent falls.

During the fair, students from MCPH for screened elderly individuals for mobility problems, orthostatic BP changes, blood glucose level and medication review. Qualified faculty members oversaw the students as they screened each patient, and afterwards the faculty and students discussed the results with participants to explain how they related to fall risk.

Of the 41 elderly individuals that attended the fair, students and faculty were able to screen 38 participants, as well as identify and explain fall risk to 31 patients.

“A multidisciplinary approach was effective for offering multiple health screeing for older adults to identify fall risks,” the researchers concluded.

Riethle T, Sullivan K, Charrette A. "Multidisciplinary assessment program: a MAP to fall prevention." Presented at: 39th Annual American Academy of Physician Assistants Conference. 2011: Las Vegas, Nevada. 

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