The Falls Prevention Initiative for Iowans

The Falls Prevention Initiative for Iowans


The Iowa Department on Aging received a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to prevent falls by at-risk Iowans, a leading cause of injury-related emergency room visits and deaths for Iowans aged 65 or older.

"Increasing the variety and availability of evidence-based fall prevention programs throughout the state is key to reducing the number of fall-related injuries and deaths among older Iowans and Iowans with disabilities," said Iowa Department on Aging Director Donna Harvey.

With the aid of the grant, the State of Iowa is working to establish a fall prevention network and a variety of educational programs to enable more Iowans to participate and learn strategies to decrease their chances of falling.

The Launch of the Stepping On Program in Iowa

The building of the fall prevention network in Iowa is off to a successful start in 2015. On February 24-26, two trainers from the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging trained 23 individuals from 11 Iowa counties to bring the Stepping On evidence-based falls prevention program to their communities. The community-based workshops for older adults will be offered once a week for seven weeks where participants will learn balance exercises and develop specific knowledge and skills to prevent falls.

The Stepping On program was originally developed in Australia, and when tested in a randomized controlled trial, demonstrated a 31% reduction in falls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed an American version of Stepping On shown to achieve similar results. This is the first time the Stepping On program has ever been offered in Iowa.

A Matter of Balance Master Trainers to Benefit Iowans

A second fall prevention training, A Matter of Balance, an evidence-based falls prevention program, was held in Iowa on March 11-12, 2015. Two facilitators from MaineHealth traveled to Iowa to train and license 20 new Master Trainers. A Matter of Balance is specifically designed to reduce fear of falling and improve activity levels among community-dwelling older adults. The program includes eight classes—each class lasting two hours and presented over a four-week period by trained facilitators—utilizing a detailed training manual and instructional videos. The curriculum includes lectures, group discussions, mutual problem solving, role-play activities, exercise training, assertiveness training and home assignments. Participants learn about the importance of exercise in preventing falls; practice exercises to improve strength, coordination and balance; how to conduct a home safety evaluation; and learn to get up and down safely. There are now 24 counties in Iowa with a licensed Master Trainer for the A Matter of Balance program. These Master Trainers have the capability to train others to be “coaches” to help bring this program to benefit Iowans in other counties and communities in Iowa.

-Submitted by Mark A. Hanson, i4a Falls Grant Project Coordinator


For more information on Falls Prevention Programming in the Heritage region, please contact Melissa Adams at 319-398-5559 ext. 5180.  She is currently recruiting participants for a Matter of Balance Class and Stepping On.  You can also check out the Learning Opportunities page on this site through the Document Center.


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