Being “afraid of falling” is an “affliction” which serves to restrict ones activities of daily living and general happiness. Being “afraid of falling” keeps people home bound creating an overall deterioration of ones general health, strength, endurance, and abilities to move about safely.
Dizziness and fear of falling takes away ones self confidence and personal independence.
One out of every three older Americans — about 12 million seniors — fall each year. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related visits to the emergency room in the United States today, are the leading cause of injury death, the most common cause of non-fatal injuries, and the leading cause for trauma related hospital admissions.
40% of those 65 and older have balance disorders sufficient to put them at risk of falling.
Keeping Seniors Safe From Falls Act of 2004 Though most only fall from a standing position rather than from a height, the impact of that fall can be devastating. Of the approximately 13,000 Americans who die from falls every year, more than 11,600 are age 65 or older. Another 338,000 adults, mainly those older than 65, fall and fracture their hip. Only half of the older adults who were living independently before their hip fracture were able to live on their own a year later.
The total cost of all fall injuries for people age 65 or older in 1994 was $27.3 billion (in current dollars) (Englander 1996). By 2020, the cost of fall injuries is expected to reach $43.8 billion (in current dollars) (Englander 1996). The Federal Government has reflected a concern in the medical system meeting the challenge of falls via the “Keeping Seniors Safe From Falls Act of 2004”.
Fall Risk – An Explosion in Incidents From 2000 to 2040 the CDC predicts that the number of people aged 65 and older will increase from 43.8 million to 77.2 million. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related visits to the emergency room in the United States today:
1. The leading cause of injury death 2.
The most common cause of non-fatal injuries 3.
The leading cause for trauma related hospital admissions
The Cost Burden to the Healthcare System
1. In 1991 – Medicare costs for hip fractures (resultant from falls) was $2.9 billion (1)
2. In 1996 – more than 250,000 Americans suffered from hip fractures at a cost in excess of $10 billion dollars (1)
3. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the cost for treatment of fall-related injuries today is estimated at $20.2 billion (1) 4. The total cost of fall injuries for people age 65 and older in 1994 was $27.3 billion 5. By 2020, the cost of fall injuries is expected to reach $43.8 billion (2) (1) Source: America Academy of Family Physician, News and Publications, April 1, 2000. (2) Source: CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
The Patient Population 1. According to the AMA, 1 in every 4 patients suffers from some level of balance dysfunction 2. 40% of those 65 and older have balance disorders sufficient to put them at risk of falling 3. Approximately 2 million physician visits per year involve chief complaints of dizziness or loss of balance 4. In 2001 alone, 1.6 million seniors were treated in emergency rooms for fall related injuries 5. Ancillary vestibular dysfunction often occurs in association with Central Nervous System issues, Trauma/ Injury, and even deteriorates through disuse. Even when success of treatment is found for the primary issue, the secondary vestibular loss is often overlooked and remains an issue for the patient.
Problems outside the Ambulatory Market: Long Term Care. How serious is the Problem? 1. In 1997, 1.5 million persons ages 65 and older lived in long-term care facilities. 2. Patients often experience multiple falls – 2.6 per person per year on average 3. Each year, a typical 100-bed nursing home reports 100 to 200 falls. 4. If current rates continue, by 2030 this number will rise to about 3 million Source: CDC National Center for Injury Prevention 5. 30% of community-dwelling elderly people fall each year, as do more than 50% of nursing home residents. 6. There are an average of 1,600 falls for every 1,000 nursing home residents
7. Falls and instability are thought to be contributing factors in as much as 40% of nursing home admissions.
Source: Geriatric Times – 2005
Now there is help! Physicians and physical therapists can now work together to properly diagnose individual problems and provide a specialized/targeted balance and vestibular rehabilitation program.
What is “Vestibular Rehabilitation”? Specially trained physical therapists are now available to provide individualized rehabilitation programs which directly target the deficits which your physician has diagnosed. The rehabilitation program, directly supervised by a physical therapy specialist, then helps to retrain the vestibular system and brain.
Studies have shown that this type of treatment is EXTREMELY effective in helping to ELIMINATE DIZZINESS and PREVENT FALLING.