This week, I just want to review some aspects of what a Physical Therapist can contribute to a Falls Risk Assessment Team (FRAT). The role of the Physical Therapist might change dramatically depending on setting, training and the skills of other FRAT members. What is listed below is a summary provided by Kim Slemp, PT, a good therapist and friend, when asked to describe what a PT can contribute over and above what an Audiology-based protocol might cover. The Physical Therapy exam she follows is described below:
Physical Therapy Assessment of Multi-factorial Balance Disorders
1. Manual Muscle Test –muscle groups are tested for strength and symmetry (i.e., right leg versus left leg). Resistance against the therapist’s hand is subjectively judged on a 0 to 5 performance scale.
2. Range of Motion – Evaluation is performed for reduced mobility of ankle, knee and hip joints. This is objectively measured using an instrument known as a Goniometer that measures change in joint position referenced to baseline.
3. Sensation –Lower extremity sensation can be assessed using subjective responses to pin prick, vibration, and sharp/dull discrimination.
4. Coordination –Subjective assessment of patient’s ability to perform smooth, rhythmic movements of upper and lower extremities provides assessment of gross motor control.
5. Posture – Subjective observation of head position in spine, spinal alignment and position of trunk is performed.
(Information provided by Kim Slemp, PT, Smyth County Community Hospital, Marion, VA.)