Active Interventions Education Health & Wellness Mobile Development Neuro Ortho Rehab

Building Fall Preventions Skills for Full-Time Wheelchair & Scooter Users

March 8, 2022 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

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Laura A. Rice, PT, PhD, ATP
Elizabeth Peterson, PhD, OTR/L
Toni Van Denend, OTD

While evidence supporting the role of physical therapy in fall prevention for older adults is growing, physical therapists’ contributions to fall prevention for people who are non-ambulatory are rarely discussed in the literature. This is surprising since falls are the third leading cause of death resulting from unintentional injury and the most common and dangerous type of accident among wheelchair (WC) and scooter users. This course will provide participants with evidence and resources needed to support full-time WC/scooter users in their efforts to prevent and mange falls during daily activities.

Upon completion of this course, the participant will be able to:

  1. Describe strategies to educate full-time wheelchair and scooter users about fall prevention and fall management strategies that are informed by an appreciation of the multifactorial nature of falls among wheelchair and scooter users, available evidence, and experience in interprofessional collaborative practice.
  2. Identify solutions to common challenges encountered when delivering fall prevention and fall management education for full-time wheelchair and scooter users seen in clinical settings.

Part 1 of this course will be supported by a PowerPoint presentation and will begin with an operational definition of full-time WC and/or scooter users (i.e., people who use a WC or scooter over 40 hours per week). Descriptions of the multifactorial nature of falls among full-time WC/scooter users and the fall epidemiology for this population will follow and will feature evidence-based factors associated with falls among WC /scooter users. Part 1 will continue with descriptions of priority fall prevention and management topics and educational strategies for full-time WC/scooter users, as well as resources supporting education efforts. Part 1 content will be informed by many sources, including the presenters’ research undertaken to develop, implement and evaluate a multifactorial, group-based program to comprehensively manage fall risk and promote community participation among WC and/or scooter users. Although originally designed for individuals with multiple sclerosis, many of the program components are applicable to a wide range of WC/scooter users.

Specific topics addressed in Part 1 will include WC/scooter and transfer skills, exercises to improve seated postural control, methods to manage environmental risk factors, fall recovery strategies, symptom management, and use and maintenance of assistive technology. Education strategies targeting WC/scooter users described include didactic presentations utilizing video and pictures to maximize modeling, goal setting, journaling, action planning, handouts informed by health literacy guidelines, interactive group discussions, and practice opportunities to promote skill mastery.

In Part 2, participants will work individually to complete a case-based activity that guides them through a process of: a) comparing and contrasting the education strategies highlighted in PART 1; b) identifying priority fall prevention and management education needs for the case-based subject; and c) describing client-centered educational strategies appropriate for clinical practice settings.

Part 3 of the course will feature a small group activity. Participants will share Part 2 findings and identify challenges associated with the delivery of falls prevention and management education for full-time WC/scooter users seen in clinical settings, including challenges specific to interprofessional collaboration. Strategies and resources to address challenges will be discussed in small groups and shared during

In Part 4, major points will be summarized, and participants will be encouraged to draw from the resources listed on the course handout to inform future work in fall prevention for full-time WC and/or scooter users.

Intended Audience: The course will be delivered by licensed physical and occupational therapists with extensive research and/or clinical backgrounds in fall prevention for WC/scooter users, and is intended for clinically-based, intermediate-level learners. It will feature a case-based activity that will enable participants to apply educational strategies pertaining to fall prevention and management that are intended for full-time WC/scooter users.

Course References