Simply Rehab LLC, Northbrook, Ill, plans a multi-state project to help operators of skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities improve their ability to better predict which residents are at risk for falling. The program also includes measurements that lead to appropriate preventative actions for at-risk residents.

Falls among community dwelling older adults are a significant problem in the United States, and Medicare’s cost of treating injuries resulting from falls nears $3 billion. Statistics gathered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) report that for every 10 residents of nursing homes in the United States, five falls are reported annually.

Simply Rehab, which provides physical, occupational, and speech therapy services to nursing homes, and exercise programs to assisted living facilities, announced the project, in which nursing homes in Illinois, Colorado, and North Carolina have banded together to address this serious issue.

The predictive methodology used in this project incorporates a collection of elements from the popular Berg Balance Scale Test and improved predictive techniques reported by Oxford University in September 2008. The AST (Alternate Step Test), STS-5 (Sit to Stand five times), and the SMWT (Six Meter Walk Test) were used in a multi-year study conducted by researchers at the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, Randwick, Australia. In the study, which included 362 subjects ages 74 to 98, the methodologies proved superior to other popular techniques when predicting who would be a multiple faller.

"Skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities are under enormous pressure to reduce the frequency and cost of falls among their residents," says Robert Kunio, project manager and COO of Simply Rehab. "Rather than focusing our efforts on helping our clients better react to falls, we have decided to concentrate our efforts on better predicting who is at risk and then taking appropriate preventive measures."

Elizabeth Roth, President of Simply Rehab says the company has begun testing a collection of improved predictive techniques for the ambulating (walking) population and the propelling (wheelchair bound) population. "Our database is giving us a good correlation between quarterly predictive scores and actual falls, which then allows us to fine tune the protocol on a regular basis for various segments of the geriatric population," she says. "The outcome of this effort should be an overall reduction of falls and the cost of falls to our clients, to Medicare and ultimately to the US taxpayers."

SimplyRehab is a contract therapy provider with clients in Illinois, North Carolina, Utah, and Colorado.

[Source: Medical News Today]