The Cost of Falling

What’s the big deal?

“Fall” is considered a bad word by every physical therapist. In school, we learned to prevent falls at absolutely all costs, because of the costs incurred by people who fall. Did you know that the average fall costs about $40,000 in the United States? Falls are even considered a leading cause of injuries, hospitalization, and death `in older adults. 

risk factors

This is why fall prevention is one of the most important things we do as physical therapists. We take a thorough subjective history to understand each person as a whole as well as to identify risk factors associated with falls. Then we narrow down what factors can be eliminated or changed.   

If you feel you meet any, or multiple, of these risk factors (see list on right), it is important that you let your doctor know! Your doctor may decide to give you a referral for physical therapy.  

A common list of risk factors include:  

  1. Visual impairments  
  2. Decreased mobility/painful mobility  
  3. Stairs inside house  
  4. Multiple medications  
  5. Decreased walking speed  
  6. Balance deficits  
  7. Dizziness  
  8. Fear of falling

risk factors

This is why fall prevention is one of the most important things we do as physical therapists. We take a thorough subjective history to understand each person as a whole as well as to identify risk factors associated with falls. Then we narrow down what factors can be eliminated or changed.   

If you feel you meet any, or multiple, of these risk factors (see list below), it is important that you let your doctor know! Your doctor may decide to give you a referral for physical therapy.  

A common list of risk factors include:  

  1. Visual impairments  
  2. Decreased mobility/painful mobility  
  3. Stairs inside house  
  4. Multiple medications  
  5. Decreased walking speed  
  6. Balance deficits  
  7. Dizziness  
  8. Fear of falling

skip the fall altogether

Several studies have shown physical therapy to be effective in decreasing incidence of falls. One study showed a 40% decrease in falls with physical therapy/exercise as the only intervention. As physical therapists, we are trained in prescribing exercises aimed at addressing specific impairments in movement, and this includes your walking and your balance. If you feel you could benefit from a through evaluation from one of our Doctor’s of Physical Therapy, give us a call!  

Written by:

Britt Linde
PT, DPT

Sources:

  1. Verma S.K., Willetts J.L., Corns H.L., Marucci-Wellman H.R., Lombardi D.A., Courtney T.K. Falls and fall-related injuries among community-dwelling adults in the United States.PLoSONE. 2016;11:e0150939. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150939  
  2. GazibaraT., Kurtagic I., Kisic-Tepavcevic D., Nurkovic S., Kovacevic N., Gazibara T., Pekmezovic T. Falls, risk factors and fear of falling among persons older than 65 years of age. Psychogeriatrics. 2017;17:215–223. doi: 10.1111/psyg.12217.  
  3. World Health Organization Falls Fact Sheets: Fall. [(accessed on 12 April 2017)]; Available online:http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs344/en/
  4. GaxatteC., Nguyen T., Chourabi F., Salleron J., Pardessus V., Delabrière I., Thévenon A., Puisieux F. Fear of falling as seen in the multidisciplinary falls consultation. Ann. Phys. Rehabil. Med. 2011;54:248–258. doi: 10.1016/j.rehab.2011.04.002.  
  5. Gulka HJ, Patel V, Arora T, McArthur C, Iaboni A. Efficacy and Generalizability of Falls Prevention Interventions in Nursing Homes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2020;21(8):1024-1035.e4.doi:10.1016/j.jamda.2019.11.012 
  6. SenderovichH, Tsai PM. Do Exercises Prevent Falls Among Older Adults: Where Are We Now? A Systematic Review. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2020;21(9):1197-1206.e2. doi:10.1016/j.jamda.2020.05.010 

Written by:

Stephanie Popelka
PT, DPT

Sources:

  1. Verma S.K., Willetts J.L., Corns H.L., Marucci-Wellman H.R., Lombardi D.A., Courtney T.K. Falls and fall-related injuries among community-dwelling adults in the United States.PLoSONE. 2016;11:e0150939. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150939  
  2. GazibaraT., Kurtagic I., Kisic-Tepavcevic D., Nurkovic S., Kovacevic N., Gazibara T., Pekmezovic T. Falls, risk factors and fear of falling among persons older than 65 years of age. Psychogeriatrics. 2017;17:215–223. doi: 10.1111/psyg.12217.  
  3. World Health Organization Falls Fact Sheets: Fall. [(accessed on 12 April 2017)]; Available online:http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs344/en/
  4. GaxatteC., Nguyen T., Chourabi F., Salleron J., Pardessus V., Delabrière I., Thévenon A., Puisieux F. Fear of falling as seen in the multidisciplinary falls consultation. Ann. Phys. Rehabil. Med. 2011;54:248–258. doi: 10.1016/j.rehab.2011.04.002.  
  5. Gulka HJ, Patel V, Arora T, McArthur C, Iaboni A. Efficacy and Generalizability of Falls Prevention Interventions in Nursing Homes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2020;21(8):1024-1035.e4.doi:10.1016/j.jamda.2019.11.012 
  6. SenderovichH, Tsai PM. Do Exercises Prevent Falls Among Older Adults: Where Are We Now? A Systematic Review. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2020;21(9):1197-1206.e2. doi:10.1016/j.jamda.2020.05.010