An estimated 1 in 4 adults 65 and older experiences a fall each year, and according to a recent study, falls-related deaths among adults 75 and older are on the rise, all of which makes falls prevention more relevant than ever.
With Falls Prevention Awareness Day coming September 23, now is a great time to check out a few falls-related resources from APTA and its components. Here are a few ways to make the next few days a little more fall-focused.
1. Check out the tests and measures at PTNow.
In addition to being your source for clinical summaries, clinical practice guidelines, and research, APTA's evidence-based practice resource also includes a host of tests and measures—including many related to balance. Members can download information on the 360-degree turn stand, the balance error scoring system, the elderly mobility scale, and the falls risk assessment tool, to name a few. Some of the resources even come with accompanying videos. And don't forget other falls-related resources at PTNow, such as this clinical summary on fall risk in community-dwelling elders.
2. Learn about (and share) the research that supports physical therapy's value in reducing fall risk.
This 2-page pdf document compiles summaries of recent studies that underscore the important role physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) can play in falls prevention. It's easy to print out and share.
3. Get involved with a SIG—or 3.
SIG stands for an APTA "special interest group," a place where you can connect with other providers who share your passion for a particular subject. When it comes to falls, you have options: the APTA Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy's Balance and Falls Special Interest Group, the Balance and Falls SIG sponsored by the APTA Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy, and the APTA Academy of Oncologic Physical Therapy's Oncologic Balance and Falls SIG. You'll need to be a member of the respective academies first, but belonging to any of them has its own merits.
4. Stay informed.
APTA's Learning Center makes it easy to grow your knowledge around falls prevention by way of timely (and convenient) continuing education offerings offered at a discount to APTA members. Two relevant and relatively recent examples: "Physical Therapy and the Aging Adult: Management of Falls and Falls Prevention in Older Adults," a 0.4 CEU online learning course, and "Management of Balance Impairments and Fall Risks for Adult Cancer Survivors," a 0.7-CEU online course that explores a perspective surveillance model to decrease fall risk in this population.
5. Help your patients and clients understand the importance of falls prevention.
The risk of falls can't be reduced if patients aren't actively engaged—and that engagement begins with education. APTA's consumer focused ChoosePT.com website is designed to do just that, making it easy for nonclinicians to learn about a wide range of conditions and what PTs and PTAs can do to help. ChoosePT.com resources include a Physical Therapist's Guide to Falls that lays out the basics, an overview of how physical therapy can aid in falls prevention, a podcast on falls and falls prevention, and a short video on how balance can be improved—and falls avoided—through physical therapy
Want more? Check out APTA's Balance and Falls webpage. Resources include tips on developing consumer events on falls and links to other organizations.