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Many studies have shown that physical therapy can help to reduce the risk of falling in adults ages 65 and older. A new study (that looked at falls risk in women ages 80 and older) provides yet another reason to choose or recommend physical therapy for falls prevention — the overall value it delivers.

Falls are a major injury risk for older adults. They often result from reduced muscle strength, a decline in balance, and fear of falling or loss of confidence. Decreased cognitive function also can increase the risk for falls. Data from 2018 shows that falls led to nearly 3 million emergency department visits and resulted in approximately 32,000 deaths in the United States.

Choosing physical therapy to help prevent falls is better than doing nothing and helps older adults to:  

  • Increase strength, balance, and overall walking function.
  • Avoid the increased risk of a fall-related injury.
  • Participate in effective balance training specific to their abilities.
  • Reduce the risk of subsequent falls and further injury.

Learn more about physical therapist treatment in the Physical Therapy Guide to Falls.

Graphic illustration of the falls prevention findings in the Economic Value of Physical Therapy Report

Researchers calculated the economic impact of choosing physical therapy to prevent falls. They found that doing so saves $2,144, including all the hidden costs of your time, pain, missed life events, and the dollars paid for services. This graphic summarizes their analysis, outlined in an easy-to-read paper covering this and seven other conditions.

Health care dollars are finite. This research can help to influence policies that better enable patient access to treatment options. It also may lead to health plan coverage that is both clinically effective and value-based. Patients and the health care system benefit when our health care dollars go further.

Physical therapists are movement experts. They improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. You do not need a referral* to see a physical therapist in the United States. Visit Find a PT to search for a physical therapist in your area.

Find a PT Near You

*Your insurance policy, corporate policies, or state practice laws may still require a referral. Some states may limit the type or duration of treatment without a referral.


View additional Did You Know? articles on all eight conditions on our Value of Physical Therapy page.


Additional Resources

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"The Economic Value of Physical Therapy in the United States," a report from the American Physical Therapy Association.

Guirguis-Blake JM, Michael YL, Perdue LA, et al. Interventions to prevent falls in older adults: updated evidence report and systematic review for the US Preventive Services Task Force. JAMA. 2018;319(16):1705–1716. Article Summary in PubMed

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