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  • NYT on Falls, Part 2: One Woman's Journey

    The second installment of the 2-part New York Times series on falls among the elderly brings the issue to a personal level by following the recovery of a 79-year-old woman who fractured her pelvis in a fall in November 2013.

    "A Tiny Stumble, a Life Upended,” focuses on Joan Rees of San Francisco. Rees suffered her fall in Istanbul, Turkey, last year and only now considers herself fully recovered. NYT reporter Katie Hafner chronicles the warning signs and early falls experienced—and discounted—by Rees, and the sometimes-frustrating journey of recovery.

    Hafner reports that Rees relied on physical therapy throughout her recovery, and that she suffered a "depressing setback" when she was forced to wait for nearly 2 weeks for Medicare to transfer her case so she could resume physical therapy after moving from her son's house back to her own apartment. During the gap, Rees developed sciatic pain and was prescribed Vicodin. "A few days later, [Rees' daughter] arrived at her mother's apartment to find her on the couch, unconscious and drooling," Hafner writes.

    Hafter reports that "6 months after the accident, with regular physical therapy, Mrs. Rees had recovered remarkably well. But to watch her move through her days was to see a lingering tentativeness. Where once her gait was strong and assured, it had turned cautious." Now, according to the article, Rees considers herself fully recovered and "is back to taking lengthy walks around San Francisco."

    Part 1 of the NYT series focused on challenges facilities face in reducing falls risks.

    APTA's Balance and Falls webpage offers a wide variety of resources for physical therapists and consumers. Also check out PTNow for a clinical practice guideline on falls and fall injuries in the older adult and a clinical summary on falls risk in community-dwelling elderly people.

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