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Physical therapy prevents falls

By Jerry Moczerniuk PT, DPT
db Orthopedic Physical Therapy

Falling has for years been a leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older adults in the United States and abroad. More than one in four Americans 65 years and older fall every year.

Many research studies over the years suggest various degrees of benefit from physical therapy for fall reduction. A recent Cochrane systematic review, or a large scale review which analyzes data and summarizes findings of many high level studies, supports those findings.

The review comprised of 108 randomized control trials with more than 23,000 participants suggested that exercise treatments reduce the risk for falls in adults over 65, and reduce overall number of falls. This same study concluded that exercise interventions performed by healthcare professionals are more effective than ones provided by trained providers who were not healthcare professionals.

The reviewers examined many categories of exercises compared to control interventions. The findings revealed that exercise intervention, consisting of gait, balance, coordination, and functional training reduces falls by up to 24 percent.

Individuals who received exercise intervention by trained healthcare professionals such as physical therapists reduced falls by 31 percent, meanwhile exercise provision by individuals who were not healthcare professionals reduced falls by only 18 percent. Reviewers also suggested that balance and functional training has the best long term reduction in fall risk, and that combination of balance, functional training, and resistance exercises likely reduced fall risk by 34 percent.

A skilled physical therapist is capable of accurately diagnosing balance dysfunction and risk for falls by a comprehensive evaluation including history taking, physical examination, as well as functional/balance tests. Once a comprehensive evaluation is completed, an appropriate plan of care can be established.

Physical therapy treatment should be patient specific, individualize and based on needs established during initial evaluation. Most often it will consist of a combination of balance activities, functional training, strengthening and stabilization exercises, as well as environmental awareness/modification training with the patient.

Dr. Moczerniuk is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, member of American Physical Therapy Association, and a clinical director at db Orthopedic Physical Therapy of Manalapan LLC, 120 Craig Road, Suite 2, Manalapan.

Dr. Moczerniuk can be reached at 732-462-2162 or via email at You can also find out more about the practice at

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