Injuries—particularly injuries suffered in falls—will become an increasingly prevalent reason for emergency department (ED) visits as the US population continues to age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A recently released data brief from the CDC reports that between 2009 and 2010, 19 million ED visits were made by people 65 and older, a number that represents about 1 out of every 20 older Americans. The rates increased with age.
Particularly significant for physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs), the CDC brief states that of the 19 million ED visits in this age group, nearly 30% were injury-related, with falls accounting for 13.5% of the visits. The likelihood of fall-related visits increased markedly with age.
Older Americans can recover from falls and other injuries with the help of a physical therapist (PT) both in EDs and as part of the recovery process. APTA offers resources for physical therapy practice in EDs as well as information related to balance and falls. Research on risk factors for community dwelling elders is also available on the PTNow website.
The CDC brief predicts that by 2030, 20% of the US population will be 65 or over with a proportionate rise in ED visits, many of which will be for falls.
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