Fall Risk Assessment

Fall Risk Assessment

A fall risk assessment is a type of health assessment that helps to identify individuals who are likely to experience a fall. It is used to measure the risk of a fall in the future and can be an important tool in helping to reduce the likelihood of falls and fall-related injuries.

Preparation for Fall Risk Assessment

When preparing for a fall risk assessment, it is important for healthcare professionals to be aware of the risks associated with falls. These may include medical conditions, medications, environmental hazards, living arrangements, and lifestyle choices.

It is also important to assess the patient's physical condition, as a thorough physical examination can help to identify potential risks. This includes assessing vision, balance, strength, gait, and coordination. A cognitive assessment should also be conducted to identify any factors that might contribute to an increased risk of falls.

Fall Risk Assessment Procedure

The procedure for a fall risk assessment can vary depending on the setting. Generally, the assessment begins with a discussion between the patient and healthcare professional about their medical history, lifestyle, and any factors that may contribute to the risk of falling. The healthcare professional may then ask the patient questions about falls they have experienced in the past, medications and supplements they take, and any medical conditions they have.

The healthcare professional may also perform a physical and cognitive assessment. This may include tests to measure balance, vision, and coordination. The assessment may also include a review of the patient's living environment and lifestyle to identify any hazards or challenges that could contribute to an increased risk of falling.

Types of Falls Risk Assessment

The type of fall risk assessment used will depend on the setting and the patient's individual needs. The most common types of assessment include:

  • Clinical Risk Assessment – A clinical risk assessment is conducted by a healthcare professional and focuses on identifying any medical conditions that may increase the risk of falls. 
  • Environmental Risk Assessment – An environmental risk assessment includes an assessment of the patient's home and the environment they usually spend time in. This type of assessment looks for hazards in the environment that could increase the risk of falls.
  • Functional Risk Assessment – A functional risk assessment looks at the patient's ability to undertake physical activities. It may include tests of balance, coordination, and gait, as well as an assessment of physical strength.
  • Falls Risk Score – A falls risk score is used to measure the patient's overall risk of falling. It is typically based on the results of the other types of fall risk assessments.

Risks of Falling

Falls can lead to serious injuries including fractures, head trauma, and even death. To reduce the risk of falls, it is important to identify individuals who are at an increased risk of falling and take steps to prevent falls.

The risk of falling increases with age, and older individuals are more likely to suffer from falls-related injuries and death. Other factors that can increase the risk of falls include medical conditions such as Parkinson's disease or arthritis, medications, vision problems, and environmental hazards. It is important to identify these factors to reduce the risk of falling.

Why a Fall Risk Assessment is Important

A fall risk assessment is an important tool in helping to reduce the likelihood of falls and fall-related injuries. By measuring the risk of falls and identifying individuals who are at an increased risk of falling, healthcare professionals can take steps to reduce the likelihood of falls and injuries.

Fall prevention strategies can include introducing medication and lifestyle changes, assessing the home environment for hazards, and providing balance and strength training. These strategies can help reduce the risk of falls and help to keep individuals safe.

When to Do Fall Risk Assessments

Fall risk assessments are typically conducted whenever an individual is at an increased risk of falls. This could include older individuals with medical conditions, those taking medications, or those living in an environment with potential hazards.

Healthcare professionals may also recommend a fall risk assessment for individuals who have experienced a fall in the past. This allows for an assessment of the underlying causes of the fall and steps that can be taken to reduce the risk.