Falls are not a normal part of aging and present a significant public health risk to aging adults, their families, and caregivers. As members of the aging adults' interdisciplinary healthcare team, physical therapists have a significant role in screening, assessing, and developing interventions to manage fall risk, consequences, and cost. Content to prepare students to manage falls occurs in didactic, experiential, and interprofessional components of professional physical therapy education curricula. The purpose of this presentation is to describe how six Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs in Georgia integrated community-based falls prevention activities into their curricula in support of a statewide STOP (Screen one-Thousand Older adults to Prevent) Falls initiative.
The STOP Falls initiative was a collaborative effort between faculty members responsible for fall prevention and management content in six Georgia DPT programs. Faculty determined how to best integrate community-based fall risk screening into their fall semester curriculum in 2018 and 2019. Each program identified community partners, locations, students, and the fall risk screening activity format. Programs used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injury (STEADI) initiative as the framework for preparation and implementation of activities.
Across all DPT programs, integration of fall risk screenings occurred in nine different academic courses via 41events including interprofessional education and service activities. Courses included those with dedicated and threaded geriatric physical therapy content, service-learning, and clinical education. Students reported similar benefits from participation, regardless of the teaching approach used and valued the opportunity to interact with aging adults outside of a traditional practice setting. The 2018 and 2019 STOP Falls initiative resulted 1,165 aging adults being screened for fall risk by 431 DPT students and 12 faculty in collaboration with 53 different community and clinical partners across Georgia.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:
Community-based fall prevention activities can be incorporated into DPT curricula in multiple ways while impacting population health. Collaboration among academic programs, community and clinical partners to meet a shared goal may further enhance the studentÕs experience and provide additional opportunities to engage with aging adults outside of the classroom. The STOP Falls initiative is an example of Excellence in Physical Therapy Education targeting Population Health, the Patient Experience, Reducing Healthcare Costs, and Team Well-Being. Six DPT programs collaborated to improve population health across the state by engaging students, clinicians, and community partners in falls prevention activities for aging adults. Students experienced application of evidence-based care in the community and advocacy for a population and the profession. Faculty shared innovative curricular strategies, community resources, and demonstrated practice outside of the classroom. Georgians received fall risk screenings, education, referrals to healthcare providers and community resources, and contributed to student learning.