Interventions to Reduce Risk for Patients with Sensory Impairment

Some patients have impairments in visual, vestibular, and somatosensory systems that negatively impact their balance during mobility and activities of daily living. Others have hearing or visual impairments that may make patient education more challenging. These impairments may be long-standing for the patient, or may be acute changes due to the patient’s current medical condition. A list of interventions that may be of benefit to these patients include:

Potential Intervention    

Rationale

Handoff to communicate risk    Transfer important information about a patient’s fall risk to another staff member caring for that patient.
Hearing aids The use of devices to enhance hearing can make patient education and communication with the patient more effective.
Night lights/supplemental lighting     Improve the patient’s ability to use vision for balance and see potential obstacles in their path.
Occupational therapy evaluation Occupational therapists (OTs) assess and train patients in the performance of activities of daily living, such as dressing, grooming, bathing, and toileting. This training often includes ways to compensate for sensory impairments that may interfere with the safety of these tasks. Additionally, some OTs are specially trained in rehabilitation strategies for people with low vision.
Patient/family education Communication strategies during patient education may need to be adapted in order to compensate for hearing or visual impairment.
Physical therapy evaluation Physical therapists (PTs) assess and train patients in the performance of mobility tasks such as transfers and ambulation. This training often includes ways to compensate for sensory impairments that may interfere with the safety of these tasks. Additionally, physical therapists are trained in vestibular rehabilitation.
Visible identification of risk Use of signage, colored bracelets, and/or socks helps all staff visually identify if a patient is at risk for falls.
Vision correction Ensuring a patient consistently wears their eyewear will assist them to more effectively use their vision for balance and mobility.