PT Addresses Falls Prevention at Capitol Hill Briefing

ALEXANDRIA, VA, May 7, 2008 — The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has joined forces with a national coalition of health and consumer groups to educate members of Congress and their staff about the importance of falls prevention initiatives, including the recently enacted Safety of Seniors Act.

In remarks during today's "Falls Prevention Briefing" in Washington, DC, APTA member and National Falls Free Coalition representative Bonita Lynn Beattie, PT, MPT, MHA, said that "falls and falls-related injuries are not normal consequences of growing old; there are evidence-based interventions that can help reduce older adults' risk of falling and can affect the rate of falls and falls-related injuries and death." Beattie, who also represents the National Council on Aging (NCOA), urged Congress "to fund efforts to increase the falls risk assessment and intervention skills of health care providers and promote collaboration with the aging services network."

"We applaud Ms Beattie and urge Congress to fund this critical health issue," commented APTA President R Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "Falls are a leading cause of injury and death among people 65 and older. About one in three seniors above age 65, and nearly one in two seniors over age 80, will fall at least once this year, many times with disastrous consequences. Physical therapists are taking an active role in educating consumers about how to safely prevent falls as well as treat those who have fallen and suffered injuries as a result. This education will ultimately improve the health and quality of life of our nation's seniors."

The Safety of Seniors Act, signed into law two weeks ago, authorizes the secretary of Health and Human Services to oversee and support a national education campaign focusing on reducing falls among older adults and preventing repeat falls, and awards grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements to design and carry out local education campaigns.

The American Physical Therapy Association (www.apta.org), a member of the Falls Free Coalition, is a national organization representing physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students nationwide. Its goal is to foster advancements in physical therapist education, practice, and research. Consumers can visit www.findapt.us to find a physical therapist in their area, as well as www.apta.org/consumer for physical therapy news and information.

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