Physical Therapists’ role in community collaborative efforts to improve safety and prevent falls




Bugnariu, Nicoleta
Cummings, David
Zavadsky, Matt
Addington, Ricky


Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



  1. Collaborative efforts of the Fort Worth Fire Department, MEDSTAR mobile healthcare, and the Fort Worth Safe Communities Coalition have led to the development of a home safety and fall prevention service designed to reduce the incidence of falls among fort worth residents 65 years of age or older.
  2. A 19-item home safety checklist was designed to assist in the evaluation of the primary resident’s home environment to identify potential fall risks. Physical therapists’ input regarding environmental fall risks was used for development of the checklist and the training of designated firefighters that deliver the service. The one hour free home safety evaluation identifies potential fall or safety risks. Firefighters make recommendations based on observations and provide information on available community resources specific to fall prevention. The Safe Community Coalition, specifically the Falls Prevention task force on which several physical therapists serve analyzes the de-identified data from home safety assessments performed by the FWFD.
  3. In a 7 month period a total of 811 individuals were contacted. From these, only 153 expressed interest in receiving the FWFD service. A total of 137 individuals provided reasons for refusal of the home safety assessments free service. These reasons consisted of: non-interested (22%), current or previous access to home health (15%), and residential relocation (11%). A significant association between fear of falls and difficulty performing sit to stand was found (p=.016), 75% of participants that fear falls have difficulty standing from a seated position.
  4. Prevention of falls and associated health care costs is a priority for many communities. Physical Therapists are well positioned to lead collaborative efforts engaging community organizations and that target fall prevention. Such programs offer potential benefits both to the community and to the emergency response infrastructure. The community receives education and evaluation regarding fall prevention aimed to reduce recurrence of falls. By prevention, demands placed on emergency resources can be potentially alleviated. Factors associated with the incidence of falls can be acknowledged and interventions can be provided to prevent subsequent impairment and decline in quality of life.


Research Appreciation Day Award Winner - 2016 School of Health Professions - Best Physical Therapist Poster Presentation