Falling is one of the most frequent causes of serious injury and fear of falling is one of the greatest concerns of older adults. A new fall prevention program at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Breese may provide some peace of mind.
The program is offered by the Physical Therapy Department at the hospital HealthPlex. Physical Therapist Kaci Cruthis directs the program; a physician’s referral is needed.
The program is for anyone with an increased risk of falling due to:
- Medication changes
- Muscle weakness
- Degenerative joint disease
- Osteoporosis or
- Other conditions
Participants are evaluated on:
- Low blood pressure that can cause dizziness or lightheadedness and
Participants also complete a self assessment of their general, mental and physical health.
To assist with evaluation and treatment, the hospital recently installed a Biodex balance machine. One feature of the unit is an interactive screen so participants can view their progress like a video game.
Also considered in the evaluation are environmental factors such as low lighting, uneven flooring and rugs, and behaviors such as hurrying, climbing stairs without using a handrail or using a stepstool or ladder.
If the participant is considered at risk for falling, an individualized program is developed including:
- Exercises for strength, motion/flexibility, balance,coordination, walking speed, step length and cardiovascular fitness;
- Home exercises;
- Education on reducing environmental andbehavior risks; and
- Information on what to do in case of a fall.
Participants typically visit Physical Therapy 8 to 12 times over four weeks, at which time a report is provided to the referring physician who may recommend the program be continued based on progress.
Most insurance companies, including Medicare, cover fall assessment and conditioning. The hospital Business Office (526-5329 or John Bono) can answer insurance-related questions.
Physical Therapist and Program Director Kaci Cruthis is a graduate of the University of Illinois Kinesiology program and holds a doctorate degree in physical therapy from Washington University in St. Louis. She joined the hospital staff in 2007.
For more information
For more information, contact Physical Therapy at 526-5436 or your family physician.