How Physical Therapy Can Help Confront a Growing Health Crisis

Earlier this year, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an eye-opening report on a deadly yet often overlooked epidemic affecting American seniors: accidental falls.

Over the last decade, fall deaths among elderly citizens have increased at an alarming rate —  a reality that has imposed enormous human and financial costs on our health care system. Accounting for roughly 300,000 hip fractures, 800,000 hospitalizations and 27,000 deaths every year, falls are also the leading cause of injury-related emergency room visits for older Americans. With roughly 40 percent of nursing home admissions driven by fall-related accidents, many seniors sadly have their independence stripped away as a result of these unexpected slips.

Needless to say, the cost burden of this epidemic is enormous. It is estimated that medical expenditures attributable to fatal and nonfatal falls were roughly $50 billion in 2015 alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fall injuries are “among the 20 most expensive medical conditions” and incur an average hospital cost of more than $30,000 per admission. Hip fractures for elderly Americans are driven almost exclusively by falls and involve a lifetime cost of about $81,300 per patient. The majority of these costs are borne by the Medicare program to the tune of almost $30 billion in 2015.

Click here to see the full article on Morning Consult’s website.