The Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California recognizes that injuries are the leading cause of death for American Indians between the ages of 1 and 44 years of age. Depending on the type of injury, American Indians experience injury mortality rates that are 2.5 to 8.7 times higher than the rate for all other U.S. population group. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injuries, both fatal and non-fatal, and that falls are the leading cause of hospitalization for adults ages 55 and older. A study conducted in 2019, stated that in the state of Nevada, accidents/unintentional injuries ranked number 5, and deaths per 100,000 people has been increasing over the last 3 years.
The Washoe Tribe Injury Prevention Program recognizes that falls are continuing to be a source of injuries in patients 50 and older seeking services from the Washoe Tribal Health Center. With the implementation of the Injury Prevention Program, the Washoe Tribe was able to decrease the incidence of severe injuries and death associated with Elder falls and raise the overall health and wellness of Washoe Tribal Elders, and Elder community members within the territorial boundaries and/or clinic “service area” of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. With another cycle of funding, the Washoe Tribal Health Center Injury Prevention Program hopes to address the disparity in injury rates by utilizing past data and information to implement a more focused, community-based Injury Prevention Program.
The program aims to decrease fall risk by focusing on prevention rather than response, treatment or rehabilitation, by providing evidence-based Elder Fall Prevention Programs, such as “Matter of Balance”, designed to improve Elder strength, balance, mobility, and health knowledge in a safe and comfortable environment. The program will provide home safety assessments to identify and modify risk factors (i.e. modular ramps, grab bars, floor treads, etc.), as well as developing Home Safety Checklists to identify risk factors (i.e. loose gravel, unstable walking area, crowded/unsafe walking area, unsafe home access points, low lighting, use of old/unstable walking assist devices, etc.) and modify risk factors (i.e. install modular ramps, grab bars, hand rails, floor treads, tread/rug tape, night lights, motion sensor lights, ice melt, etc. or provide wheelchairs, walkers, rolling walkers, selection of canes, replacement parts, etc.). The injury prevention program will also initiate a large continual outreach campaign to promote Elder safety and Fall Prevention, community education, and leadership involvement.