Summary of talk delivered by Stefan Madansingh, PhD, Director of the ZIBRIO Balance Research Institute, at Concierge Medicine Today’s 2022 Industry Conference
Falling is a key concern for older patients
For those of us in the medical field, especially those focused on providing the best care for our aging patients, it should come as no surprise that fall risk and fall related injuries are among the top concerns for patients and providers alike. Falls continue to represent the #1 reason for trauma related injury and death, especially among older adults, and a recent Feedback Loop consumer poll suggests that 91% of adults over the age of 50 years are interested in maintaining or improving their balance to avoid falls in the future. Unfortunately, we found that the typically used tools to assess fall risk mis-identified 69-85% of the individuals who actually fell over the span of our 1-year study (Forth 2020).
With fall risk and a concern about balance on the minds of aging patients, not only do care providers need better tools to understand which of their patients are at greater risk of falling, they also need the time, opportunity, and resources to provide that care. Concierge medical practices have the flexibility to provide more detailed and individualized care, with typical practices spending 2-4hrs with their patients during their annual check-ups.
Identify fall risk with greater precision
We completed a pilot study in a concierge medicine clinic. During the study, 180 adults visited to clinic and completed two different fall risk assessments: the clinic’s current standard (10m walk test), and the ZIBRIO Stability Scale fall risk test. In addition to receiving their ZIBRIO Stability score, patients were provided with balance and fall risk educational material to support their annual physical evaluations. We found that the 10m walk test performed at this clinic identified 87% of patients as being at very low risk of falls, and only 7% of adults at high risk. This was surprising considering approximately 25% of older adults will fall every year, so we would expect the percentage of people identified as high risk to be closer to 25%. In the same population, the ZIBRIO balance score identified approximately 34% of these older adults as being at-risk for experiencing a fall.