September 23rd is National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. “Fall prevention is
particularly important to the elderly population, as more than one third
of adults 65 and older fall each year in our country1, “ says Jeremy Frye, PT, DPT, director for outpatient rehabilitation
Catawba Valley Medical Center’s Center for Rehabilitation. “Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of death due to
injury and are also the most common cause of non-fatal injuries and hospital
admissions for trauma2.” Specifically, 251 emergency department visits occur every one
hour due to falls-related injuries among older adults3!
How can we reduce these numbers? Send at risk patients to physical therapy!
Following are the four key areas he encourages people to maintain in order
to help prevent falls:
- Strength and endurance
- Proper management of chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
“Participating in a regular exercise program that includes flexibility,
strengthening, endurance, and balance activities is one of the most important
steps toward preventing falls,” Frye adds. “Starting a regular
exercise program while you are young and healthy is much easier than starting
one later in life, particularly after a fall has already occurred.”
Along with regular exercise, Frye recommends some additional preventive
steps for older adults:
- Yearly vision checks
- Regular medication reviews to minimize side effects
- Specific home modifications, such as removing clutter and having proper lighting
If a patient has fallen or is at risk for falls, they should see a physical
therapist for a fall risk assessment.
The physical therapist will take a thorough history, perform tests and
measures, and provide the patient with interventions to reduce the risk
of falling and returning to the emergency department
If you or someone you know is at risk for falls, please consider being
evaluated by a physical therapist at Catawba Valley Medical Center’s
Center for Rehabilitation. The Center for Rehabilitation has therapists
on staff specializing in treating balance disorders and reducing the risk
of falls. For more information on how rehabilitation services may be beneficial
to you or your loved one, please contact the Center for Rehabilitation
- Hornbrook MC, Stevens VJ, Wingfield DJ, Hollis JF, Greenlick MR, Ory MG.
Preventing falls among community-dwelling older persons: results from
a randomized trial. Gerontologist 1994; 34(1):16–23.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Falls Among Older Adults: An
Overview. Available at
Stevens J. Falls among older adults—risk factors and prevention strategies.
NCOA Falls Free: Promoting a National Falls Action Plan. Research Review
Papers. 2004 Available at