What is the OTAGO program?
The OTAGO program is a progressive series of exercises designed to be provided by a physical therapist in the home setting. It consists of strengthening, stretching, and balance exercises, as well as a walking component. It is one of the best current solutions for proactive fall prevention, whether the senior has already experienced a fall or not.
Mobile Rehab provides in-home, outpatient physical therapy to help seniors remain independent, active, and safe.
The main components that make OTAGO unique are:
Who is it designed for?
OTAGO was specifically designed for community dwelling older adults who are able to ambulate independently with or without an assistive device in household. These seniors are not homebound (so they do not qualify for traditional Home Health Medicare Part A services), but are often uncomfortable traveling to clinics over an extended period of time.
Why do only Physical Therapists provide it?
Although the OTAGO program is a series of standardized exercises, a physical therapist is necessary to properly assess the patient, adapt the program for any injuries or chronic conditions, and progress the program appropriately to remain challenging, yet safe.
In addition, the physical therapist is able to address other concerns, such as home safety for fall prevention, assistive device use, and many other factors to address all of the patient’s unique symptoms, mobility, strength, and range of motion issues.
Why is it provided in the patient’s home?
In order to have a long term impact on fall reduction, it is necessary to evaluate multiple aspects of the patient’s daily life to answer important questions, such as:
1. Can the patient safely and independently complete their exercise program at home, or is specific modification or instruction needed to ensure follow through?
2. Are there other elements of the home setting that increase the patient’s risk of falling that can be corrected?
3. Are there caregivers or family that would benefit from being involved in the patient’s exercise program?
In addition, it is often safer and more convenient for the therapist to travel to the patient rather than coordinating transportation for the patient. This, in turn, improves follow through with physical therapy and, ultimately, greatly improves outcomes.
Does it really work?
It definitely does! Over the course of 4 trials and 1,016 patients aged 65-97 who were at high fall risk, OTAGO reduced the chance of falling by 35-40%! It even resulted in continued balance and strength gains at 6 months after treatment ended!
Will insurance cover it?
Yes. Medicare part B, as well as other insurances, cover these services provided at the patient’s home. Supplemental insurers follow what Medicare reimburses. We have not had any issues with insurance payments for these visits and the patients and family have been deeply grateful that someone actually follows up to ensure follow through and continued independence at home.