#PTonICE Daily Show – Wednesday, August 16th, 2023 – Balance intervention framework

In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, Modern Management of the Older Adult Division Leader Christina Prevett discusses the need for falls prevention initiatives to shift their focus towards early identification of individuals at risk for falls. By doing so, healthcare professionals can implement targeted interventions and reduce the occurrence of falls before they happen.

Christina emphasizes that outcome measures should be used to guide interventions. She mentions the Mini-BEST as a specific outcome measure that assesses various aspects of balance and mobility. By administering this measure at the beginning of a session, the clinician can immediately identify areas of deficit and tailor their intervention accordingly. For example, if the person shows deficits in dynamic gait and reactive posture control, the clinician can focus on exercises and strategies to improve these specific areas.

Overall, the episode highlights the importance of outcome measures in falls prevention and emphasizes that they should not be conducted for the sake of it. Instead, outcome measures should provide meaningful and actionable information that guides clinical reasoning and informs interventions.

Take a listen to learn how to better serve this population of patients & athletes.

If you’re looking to learn more about live courses designed to better serve older adults in physical therapy or our online physical therapy courses, check our entire list of continuing education courses for physical therapy including our physical therapy certifications by checking out our website. Don’t forget about all of our FREE eBooks, prebuilt workshops, free CEUs, and other physical therapy continuing education on our Resources tab.


00:00 INTRO

What’s up everybody? Welcome back to the PT on ICE Daily Show. Before we jump into today’s episode, let’s chat about Jane, our show sponsor. Jane makes the Daily Show possible and is the practice management software that so many folks here at ICE utilize. The team at Jane knows how important it is for your patients to get the care they need. And with this in mind, they’ve made it really easy and convenient for patients to book online. One tip that has worked well for a lot of practices is to make the booking button on your website prominent so patients can’t miss it. Once clicked, they get redirected to a beautifully branded online booking site. And from there, the entire booking process only takes around two minutes. After booking an appointment, patients get access to a secure portal where they can conveniently manage their appointments and payment details, add themselves to a waitlist, opt in to text and email reminders, and fill out their intake form. If you all are curious to learn more about online booking with Jane, head over to jane.app slash physical therapy. Book their one-on-one demo with a member of their team. And if you’re ready to get started, make sure to use the code ICEPT1MO. When you sign up, that gives you a one-month grace period that gets applied to your new account. Thanks, everybody. Enjoy today’s show.


Hello, everybody, and welcome to the PT on ICE Daily show. My name is Christina Prevett. I am one of the lead faculty within our modern management of the older adult division, part of our geriatrics team. Everyone, we are flying high this week because we got everybody from our MMOA division to descend on Lexington, Kentucky at Jeff and Dustin’s Stronger Life facility, which was beautiful. And we got to show the world some of what we have been working on, which is some revamped material. So we got to really focus on dialing in live to be about lab. We were moving all weekend. It was so fun and so amazing. If you were thinking about joining MMOA live, we have a couple of opportunities coming up in the remainder of this month. So this weekend, Dustin and Jeff are going to be in Bedford, Texas, and Julie and Ellen are going to be in, oh my gosh, I’m blanking on where they are. They’re in Minnesota. And then there I was like, I know this. And then the next weekend, Alex is going to be in California. And so if you are looking for where MMOA is going to be, we have a ton of courses into the end of 2023. We are not adding any more locations for MMOA live in 2023. So if you’re kind of waiting for one to come closer to you for the end of this year, that isn’t going to happen if it’s not there now because we’re kind of locked in. We have lots of offerings that’s going to come up for 2024. So if you’re looking to see that live material, that is where to go.


OK, so today I wanted to talk a little bit about a framework for balance intervention. When it comes to balance, I think it’s a bit tougher for us to put this marker of effort or intensity on, maybe more so than other styles of fitness. What I mean by that is when we think about aerobic training, it’s easy for us to conceptualize effort because we’re seeing that perspiration, we’re seeing that heart rate response. And that’s correlating to our rates of perceived exertion. When it comes to resistance training, right, the amount of effort is either going to fatigue kind of in those higher rep ranges or our personal preference is getting to fatigue and effort through higher load. And again, it corresponds to changes in rates of perceived exertion. When we’re trying to conceptualize intensity and then we’re really trying to dial in our balance interventions, it’s a bit tougher, right? We don’t really have the same magnitude or the same outcome measures with respect to gauging intensity well. And so within MMOA, we really try and create this framework for individuals to help guide them through this kind of thought process and then create a kind of stepwise framework within our mind for how we implement this in clinical practice. The way that we do this is by first looking at the mechanism at which individuals are falling or where they are having near falls. This is important, right?


Our falls prevention initiatives are only preventative if we are identifying individuals early rather than waiting for them to get hurt and then working in secondary tertiary prevention. We want to be able to identify those who are at risk for falls before that fall has happened, which unfortunately is not as common in our health care system as it stands right now. So we want to figure out the mechanism. We want to identify risk factors that are intrinsic to the individual and extrinsic around their environment. And then in order for us to put objective data on those things, we need to take that information from our subjective and use the appropriate outcome measure in order for us to have a good data point or multiple data points in order to guide our interventions. And then we want to make sure that those outcome measures that we are selecting are giving us tangible information, right? We don’t want to be doing outcome measures for the sake of doing outcome measures. We want to do our outcome measures so that they can guide our clinical reasoning. And so let’s kind of go through this very briefly and speak to the different aspects of this framework. So the first thing is mechanism, right? When we are asking about our person subjective, many times they’re kind of cursory with their storytelling. A lot of individuals are when they’re speaking about falls. Oh, well, I stubbed my toe and I fell over. What were you doing when you stepped your toe? What was your frame of mind? Were you really rushing to get from point A to point B? Were you really tired because it was late at night? Were you holding something in your hand when you tripped and that created an other barrier or other cognitive load in your mind that created more of a predisposition to not be able to keep your center of mass over your base of support and respond to that perturbation? Was it that there is a visual issue going on and you were having trouble with depth perception? We need to kind of dig really deep into some of these stories because that’s really going to triage this risk factor profile in our brain. But you’re probably thinking, well, Christina, a lot of my clients just can’t do that or they don’t remember or they are not able to give us some of that really tangible information. And I hear you. And so when we don’t have that information, the next step is for us to go to the literature and look at what are common scenarios that lead to falls in different settings. Right. And how much do those mechanisms and that group of individuals that are being conceptualized in this research study relate to the people that are in front of you? An example is if you’re an outpatient orthopedic therapist looking at some of the acute care mechanisms of falls may be relevant, but probably is less relevant to you. So you’re going to be wanting to know, well, what is happening for our community dwelling older adults? What is their profile look like? What age group are individuals looking at in this study? And then how does this relate to my current caseload or people that I have that I am seeing right now? And so there is a recent study that came out in 2023 that was doing a prospective. So following older adults forward in Boston that was looking, for example, at mechanisms of falls in community dwelling older adults. So what they did was every month they sent older adults in this study. So they consented to this study. They were in their 70s or older. They sent a postcard to them and asked some questions. Did you have a fall in the last month? If yes, what was the mechanism? What were you doing at the time of the fall? And what was the cause of that fall with what you were doing? And I think this is interesting because they are two different things, right?


So the cause of the fall in our community dwelling older adults over 70, for example, more than half was a slip or a trip. The activity when they were having that slip or trip was walking forward. That gives us a lot of information in terms of where we start with our older adults. We’re not going to start standing on one leg. We’re going to start with slip and trip training. We’re going to look at reactive stepping, volitional step training. Maybe we’ll do that in standing first to see where a person’s control is, but we want to see what happens when they start having perturbations. And so if that slip or trip is happening going forward, it also tells us that that perturbation is often backwards or lateral. People aren’t falling forwards, right? It’s that they’re slipping and coming to the side or they’re slipping and coming back. And that’s a really important piece of information for us. And then it’s going to guide where we go. So the next thing is now we’re going to look at a person’s risk factors, right? So extrinsic risk factors when individuals are having slips and trips was, was this in the wintertime and they’re slipping on ice? Was this a step? Was this a rug that we know we’re never going to get rid of, but we may ask about trying to tape down? These are things that we may be considering when we are looking at these mechanisms or are asking these questions. And so that’s extrinsic. So we’re taking this mechanism. We’re looking at some extrinsic factors. And then the intrinsic people are going to be telling us in their narrative that they may feel like their balance isn’t really great, or they’re having trouble holding on to objects and navigating around their home or navigating outside. Or they recognize that the pain in their knee is making them not feel as strong or confident in their gait. And it’s going to create them to have a hesitation to react when a perturbation happens because they’ve had times where their leg has given out. Or they they don’t feel like they’re strong enough to move their feet, right? They’re they’re telling us these things in their subjective. And so when we take that information, now it’s going to guide us into our outcome measures. So if individuals are saying that they’re having falls because of a strength deficit or a weakness issue in their lower extremity, we may want to make sure that we have a general mobility or a strength focused measure in our assessment to get a good idea of where our triage list is going to be. So we may use a five times it to stand or a 30 seconds to stand test, or we may go a bit more general and go to the short physical performance battery because the mechanism of their fall is showing us that potentially that being that capacity to move their feet is coming from a weakness issue.


We are also going to want to in this example, look at their reactive postural control. We heavily leverage the mini best because there is a subsection of the mini best that looks at reactive postural control in each direction. So we’re going to look at a person’s capacity to react to a forward perturbation, backward perturbation and lateral perturbation. Right. If a person is having pain in the lower extremity, they’re worried about it and we do a lateral perturbation, they may not move their feet out. They may want to cross because they’re worried that that painful knee on that left hand side is not going to support their weight. So their reaction may be a step out to the right and a crossover to the right because of that painful knee. So now we’ve learned two things, right? We know that their pain is a contributing factor to their falls mechanism. It’s an intrinsic risk factor that’s creating troubles with clearance. It’s impacting their gait, whether it’s causing deviations in their gait or it’s making them not lift their foot enough and now slips and trips are more common. And we recognize that their lateral posturing, the way that they are moving to the side is impaired. So now we’ve really dialed in our assessment, right? We’ve gotten a good idea about what’s going on and we’ve picked the outcome measures that are going to give us that information. Because if we just focused, for example, on a burg. Because that is our go to balance assessment, not only are community dwelling older adults more likely to sealing that out, but it’s not really getting to the two really big issues that they spoke to in their subjective assessment, right? They are probably going to be able to stand up once and do a pivot transfer. But that five time or 30 seconds to stand that’s requiring a repeated chair stand is going to hit into maybe their pain thresholds that they’re going to start having some compensatory mechanisms. And they’re talking about having perturbations in a forward movement pattern. So the burg is in capturing backwards and lateral perturbations. So we have to be using those mechanisms and risk factors that they’re discussing with us in their subjective and then leveraging the outcome measures that have strong reliability, validity, responsiveness, interpretability in order for us to have a good idea of what the next step is. But we’re not going to do outcome measures for the sake of doing outcome measures. The next step is that we need to use those and leverage them in our interventions. One of the reasons why we also love the mini best is that oftentimes the way that we implement this is not day one. It’s a little bit more of a longer intervention or sorry, it’s a longer outcome measure. But we use it at the beginning of a session because it drives us into our intervention immediately. So if we have, for example, there’s the anticipatory sub scales, sensory orientation, dynamic gate and reactive posture control. If we think that dynamic gate and reactive posture control are the two areas that based on a person’s objective, they may struggle with more. We may use those, see where they’re starting to have these deficits. It may be obstacle navigation, for example, with that still going with this example of having slips and trips because of a painful knee and seeing gate deviations where they’re not clearing obstacles as readily as they used to when pain was a bit more managed. And they may have issues with reactive postural control backward and laterally. And we’re going to see that it’s coming to the left because it’s their left knee that’s painful. So now we have a lot of good information. We have a lot of good data. We use those outcome measures and we’re directly going into intervention, right? Like I may use a clock yourself app and block out the forward stepping and I’m going to be focusing on reacting backwards. Or I may take out the right hand side of the clock and I want them to react to the left. And that is going to do at different cadences and then see, you know, what does the threshold look like? What does the step length look like? Does pain start to increase? What is that pain threshold like? How long does that pain take to come back down? And we’re also intervening. We can also take, you know, some of these obstacle courses and put them into our interventions that day. Throw all of them together and put them into a round for time or an AMRAP where they’re going back and forth between reactive stepping and obstacle courses. And now you’re working on some strength because they’re doing bigger clearances. We may put a step up in that obstacle course and then we’re working on reactive control to the side that they’re experiencing difficulties. So when we kind of take a step back, when we slot in what we see into this framework, it can be really helpful. So to bring this full circle, we want to think about balance intensity just like anything else. It’s just like aerobic training. It’s just like resistance training, but we cannot get good outcomes with bad data. So how do we do this? Our subjective, we need to dial in on mechanisms and risk factors. We need to be asking questions. If we do not have the answers to those questions, we’re going to rely on the evidence of where older adults in different settings tend to fall. Then we’re going to use outcome measures and we’re going to select the outcome measures, if we can, based on our setting, that are going to give us the information we need to see where those thresholds are. From there, we’re going to drive ourselves right into intervention based on where those deficits lie. And we’re going to get to an intensity where individuals are either weary, we’re pushing into potentially some low-grade pain, or they are self-reporting high amounts of fatigue or nervousness.


So we may be doing some graded exposure into fear. And that is a form of progressive overload, especially in the geriatric space where fear of falling is a big risk vector for future falls. So kind of bringing this full circle, here is the framework for you when you have a person coming in who is having falls or is worried about their balance. And it’ll allow you to really dial in your interventions. Let me know if you have any other questions. What are your thoughts on this? I would love to have a dialogue. If you are interested in learning more about some of this research, we just put that 2023 paper into MMOA Digest. So every two weeks there is a research email that we send out that allows you to stay up to date with the evidence. We put all of our new courses on there, so definitely go to ptnice.com slash resources and sign up for Digest. If you are not on Hump Day Hustling, please make sure you do that too. That is all different types of research from all of our divisions. Have a wonderful Wednesday. Bye everyone.

18:34 OUTRO

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