Steady on their feet
ECU team assesses older adults’ risk of falling
By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services
Marjorie Franck can line dance again, a goal she set during rehabilitation after five falls in one year and a hip replacement.
Her comeback began after she was evaluated by a health care team at East Carolina University’s Fall Risk Assessment Clinic in the Frances J. and Robert T. Monk Sr. Geriatric Center. A physical therapist, occupational therapist, pharmacist, social worker, nurse and physician evaluate patients 60 and older for their risk of falls – all during one appointment - and give personalized recommendations to avoid falls.
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related accidental death in older adults. The problem is multi-faceted and crosses many disciplines in the care of older patients. “Here at ECU, we can bring all those disciplines together,” said Dr. Kenneth Steinweg, chairman of family medicine at ECU who evaluates patients in the fall risk clinic.
Screening tests are done for medical conditions, medications, health habits, daily life skills, home safety hazards, vision, cognition, mood, balance, dizziness, foot sensation, leg strength, walking, shoes and walking aids.
“I feel the falls clinic is wonderful,” said Franck, 75, a retired tax preparer who lives in Greenville. “They gave me my life back. I feel like I’ve come a long way.”