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Physical therapy and fall prevention

By Jessica Deak, PT, DPT

Leaves are the only thing that should be falling around this time of the year. However, more than 1 in 4 older adults age 65 and over fall each year. Every 20 minutes an older adult will die from a fall. Falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide and as a result, can lead to high economic and personal costs.


There are several risk factors that contribute to falling including: older age, visual problems, muscle weakness, balance deficits, arthritis, diabetes, fear of falling, medication side effects, home hazards such as throw rugs and poor lighting, and lack of accessibility in the home. Most falls are caused by a combination of the aforementioned risk factors. Physical therapy can address several of these risk factors and your physical therapist can develop a plan for you to address safety and decrease your risk of falling.


Research has shown that there are various degrees of benefit from physical therapy. Although engaging in daily exercise has many positive effects for strength, flexibility, and overall movement, a thorough evaluation from a physical therapist can help you to identify specific exercises that address your functional needs. There is also evidence that general group exercise programs, which do not focus specifically on balance and strength, are not as effective as individually tailored exercise programs that focus specifically on progressive balance exercises.


At db Orthopedic Physical Therapy, a fall prevention program has been established which includes a quick screen consisting of evidence-based measures in order to determine if you are at risk for future falls. This screening will be promoted in the community and will also be available in our office for individuals who are concerned about their balance. After the screening, we will determine if you are a candidate for the fall prevention program. A 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 a plan of care can be established. Your personalized program will consist of several factors including strengthening, balance activities, flexibility, functional training, coordination, or a combination. We can also determine if an assistive device or environmental adaptations may be beneficial to address any physical and/or sensory impairments.


Dr. Jessica Deak is a Doctor of Physical Therapy at db Ortho PT of Manalapan, LLC, located at 120 Craig Road, Suite 2. Dr. Deak can be reached at 732-462-2162 or via email at For more information, visit


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