July 13, 2009

Physical therapists can help prevent falls

U.S. physical therapists say elderly people who use canes and walkers need to be properly assessed and fitted by a physical therapist to avoid falling.

The American Physical Therapy Association points out a recent study found 47,000 U.S. seniors end up in emergency rooms annually due to falls involving walking aids.

The study, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, examined six years of emergency room records and found that the walker was associated seven times more with injury-related falls than was the cane.

Cathy Ciolek, a physical therapist and association member, said many patients often borrow walking aids from friends and family, which can result in injuries.

We see many patients use borrowed canes, walkers, and crutches without adjusting the fit and height appropriately, which can cause discomfort and result in further injury, Ciolek said in a statement.

In some instances a cane may not be the safest option, and it would be best to use a walker. Your physical therapist can help make that decision.