Apr 11, 2024 Occupational Therapists’ Guide to Fall Prevention

By: Alissa Percival, MS, OTR/L and Dori Cohen, MS, OTR/L, MSCS, CSRS

One of the most fundamental goals of occupational therapy is to promote safety and reduce risk of falls. This Occupational Therapy (OT) Month, we present you with some specific strategies that can facilitate safety at home. Please keep in mind that these tips are generalized and individuals experiencing falls may benefit from a more individualized approach to fall prevention.

Strategies for Fall Prevention:

Environmental Modifications:

  • Lighting: Make sure that you have ample lighting in all of the rooms in your home. Adding a lamp by your bed can enable you to avoid walking in the dark to access a light switch across the room. Adding touch lights in the hallway or by stairs may brighten up areas of your home that have less lighting.
  • Organize environment/decrease clutter: Store items in easy to access places. Revamp your kitchen with every-day objects within reach. Immediately clean up spilled liquids and pick up items dropped on floor.
  • Home Additions:
    • Add grab bars in the bathroom (shower and toilet).
    • Install sturdy handrails on both sides of stairs.
    • Place a non- slip mat by the tub and by bathroom and kitchen sinks.
  • Remove hazards from the floor and stairs: 
    • Remove area rugs.
    • Ensure cords are out of the way.
    • Reposition furniture so there is a clear pathway for navigation within each room.
    • Never leave anything on the stairs.

Use of Assistive Devices:

  • Sometimes using an ambulation device, such as a cane, walker, or crutches, can reduce risk of falls. Consult a physical therapist to develop an individualized plan and to be appropriately trained on device use.
  • Sometimes using durable medical equipment in your home can help improve safety in your bathroom and bedroom. This may include use of raised toilet seat, bed rails, grab bars, shower chair etc. Consult an occupational therapist to develop an individualized plan with consideration of your goals and your home environment.

Other Considerations:

  1. Get your vision checked annually.
  2. Listen to your body, rest when you are starting to get tired.
  3. Stay active.
  4. Wear proper footwear. This can include: well-fitted, closed-toed, light weight shoes with good support.

Alissa Percival, MS, OTR/L
Email: Alissa.Percival@RWJBH.org

Alissa Percival is an occupational therapist at Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston. She has her certification in PWR! Moves- Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery and is currently working towards becoming a Multiple Sclerosis Specialist (MSCS). Alissa completed her BS and MS at Quinnipiac University. In her free time Alissa can be found at the beach, traveling or baking.

Dori Cohen, MS, OTR/L, MSCS, CSRS
Email: Dori.Cohen@RWJBH.org

Dori Cohen is an occupational therapist at the Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston. She works with patients with neurological conditions, with a specialty in working with individuals with Multiple Sclerosis, Strokes and Parkinson’s disease. Dori is a certified Multiple Sclerosis Specialist (MSCS), Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist (CSRS) and has LSVT Big Certification. Dori completed her BA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her MS in occupational therapy at New York University. When not in the clinic, Dori enjoys spending time with her two boys (ages 3 and 5), exploring NYC, and baking.