Partnering to prevent falls

The team from Ohio State and the Upper Arlington Fire Division

Partnering to prevent falls

By Colleen Bradley, communications intern

There is a dire need to prevent falls among the 65+ year-old population as they are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for this age group. Depending on the type of fall, they can cause head injuries or bone fractures, specifically hip fractures, which are a major concern and need immediate care. Dr. Carmen Quatman, orthopedic surgeon at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedics, notes that "one in seven falls lead to fractures."

In order to address this problem, Quatman and her twin sister, Dr. Catherine Quatman-Yates, initiated a partnership between the Wexner Medical Center and the Upper Arlington Fire Division (UAFD) to connect UAFD's paramedicine program and evidence-based fall risk assessment to the installment of home modifications related to preventing falls.

The home modification program takes proactive steps by installing grab bars and motion sensor night lights in the homes of the elderly. These both make their at-home living safer and more secure by assisting with fall prevention.

The innovation of this project is what makes it unique. There has never been another program where firefighters and EMS personnel are providing home modifications with no restriction of income or insurance status of the recipients.

"UAFD has been able to show a way that they can make meaningful and timely interventions for falls in the older population in a way that no one else has thought of," says Jess Wiseman, clinical research coordinator in the Department of Orthopaedics.

Not only has the program made a positive impact on the community, it is inspiring collaborations. "It has really brought together a team across the university in different professions to tackle this problem,"says Quatman-Yates, assistant professor in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (Physical Therapy). It is uniting different groups and combining their expertise to help make the mission a success. In addition to their partnership with UAFD, the team has been working with Lowes to obtain supplies easily and inexpensively. Furthermore, it is one of UAFD's most successful programs, according to the Ohio State team's discussions with Chief Lyn Nofziger and other UAFD firefighters. The program has initiated conversations and increased education of fall prevention, helping it to earn Ohio State's 2019 Emerging Community Engagement Award.

This idea is becoming a model for other programs, such as a fire department in Akron that has initiated a fall prevention program. "It started with one idea in one area and spread to other areas," states Beth Sheridan, clinical research manager for the Department of Orthopaedics. Their hope is to continue this expansion while making it sustainable in the long run to prevent as many falls as possible within the elderly community.

Special thanks to the UAFD CARES team leads Mark Weade, Mindy Gabriel, and David Wisner; the install team leads Jon Hamilton and Matt Jividen), and CARES Coordinator Christine Leyshon; as well as Doug Brownfield, community liaison at Lowes.

For more information about the program: