Fall Prevention Rehab Is it Cost-Effective

In New South Wales, fall injury deaths are on the rise. Compared to 2001, fallrelated mortality among people age 65+ is up 72%.1 In addition to the personal toll these injuries levy on our patients, they create significant medical expenses

In New South Wales, fall injury deaths are on the rise. Compared to 2001, fallrelated mortality among people age 65+ is up 72%.1 In addition to the personal toll these injuries levy on our patients, they create significant medical expenses cost analysis from the perspective of insurers. Their work is published in the Journal of Safety Research.6 They analysed the results of a two-month program for community-dwelling patients. It consisted of physiotherapist-led exercises for musclestrengthening and balance retraining plus a walking program. 
 
At one year, this program reduced the rate of falls by 35%. This translates to a 36% return on investment (ROI) by avoiding other direct medical costs. As patients get older, the ROI increases. Among patients age 80+, falls were reduced by 40%. This results in a 127% return on investment. 
 
From a broader perspective, the financial benefits of physiotherapy for fall prevention are understated by this study. The researchers were only able to report direct medical costs. However, it is likely that other personal costs were avoided as well. Personal costs that can be reduced or delayed by fall prevention include: home modifications, lost work hours among family caregivers, home attendant services, and institutionalisation. 
 
Now providers making physiotherapy referrals for fall injury prevention can rest assured that such referrals are not only good healthcare, they are also good business. 

References
 
1. NSW Ministry of Health. Fall Related Deaths. Health Statistics New South Wales. Online resource last accessed 20 November 2019: www.healthstats.nsw.gov.au/Indicator/inj_fallolddth/
2. Heinrich S, Rapp K, Rissmann U, et al. Cost of falls in old age: a systematic review. Osteoporos Int. 2010; 21: 891–902.
3. Sumaiyah M, Maw P, Shahrul B, Chin T. Physical therapies for improving balance and reducing fall risk in osteoarthritis of the knee: a systematic review. Age Ageing. 2015; 44 (1): 16-24.
4. Michael Y, Whitlock E, Lin J, et al. Primary care - relevant interventions to prevent falling in older adults: a systematic evidence review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med. 2010; 153: 815-825.
5. Karinkanta S, Pirrtola M, Sievanen H, et al. Physical therapy approaches to reduce fall and fracture risk among older adults. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2010; 6: 396-407.
6. Carande-Kulis V, Stevens JA, Florence CS, Beattie BL, Arias I. A cost–benefit analysis of three older adult fall prevention interventions. Journal of Safety Research. 2015 Feb 1;52:65-70. 
 

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