Falling Cycle for Occupatoinal Therapy

Rethink OT Podcast

Transcript of Episode

Today’s topic is the falling cycle. Let’s put it out there – ‘fall prevention’ is the most overused phrase right now everywhere. If I am being honest, it’s actually getting annoying to see yet another person talking about ‘how to prevent a fall’. I find myself frequently rolling my eyes. Here’s the thing though, it’s important. Until falling is no longer an epidemic among older Americans, OTPs everywhere need to be advocating and educating! 


Because we all know the problem, this call is going to be short and sweet.


Let me explain to you the falling cycle: 


    1. The problem: Falling is not taken seriously. 1 in every 4 adults 65+ report they fall each year. But, how many of our patients do not report they fall? I would say at least  70% of my patients have fallen without telling a soul, until it comes up in conversation during one of our treatments. That, friends, is a problem! 
    2. Psycho-social Factors: Why don’t people report that they are falling? I have gotten many answers. Some of the top answers include: (1) I am scared someone will make me move from my home…” (2) “I am scared nobody will take me seriously.” (3) “I don’t think having a fall is that big of a deal….” and (4) I don ‘t think anyone can really do anything for a fall…” All of these unaddressed thoughts and fears ultimately lead to number 3. 
    3. Decreased lifespace: If you haven’t heard the call on lifespace. In short, lifespace is an individual physical and psychological space. When someone is experiencing falls, they will shut down their lifespace and begin eliminating rooms in their houses and places they are going because of fear, pain, or low energy. Because we know what happens when an adult stops moving……
  • Physical decline: The saying “If you don’t move it, you will lose it.” has never been truer. When the lifespace is shut down, an individual experience increased weakness and shortness of breath, increased joint and muscle pain, more fatigue during physical activity, increased forgetfulness, and perpetual fear of falling. 
  • Subsequent Fall: Finally, an individual falls, cycles through ineffective rehab, and heads right back to number 1. 


So what’s the solution? In my opinion, the solution is advocacy, rapport, patient education, and follow-up. People need ongoing support. They need to be educated on the cycle and how to break it! The first place to start is breaking the silence! 

What do you think is the solution? What will break the silence? What will stop the epidemic??