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Fall-Injury Deaths Up 72% in NSW

In New South Wales, fall-injury deaths appear to be on the rise. Compared to 2001, fall-related mortality among people age 65+ is up 72%.

One may be inclined to quickly dismiss this trend as a byproduct of an aging population, but a closer look shows there’s more to this story. The 72% rise in fall-injury deaths is only among seniors, so it is not the result of a higher percentage of seniors in the population. Why more seniors are experiencing fall-related deaths is unknown, but how to prevent fall injuries is well known.

First and foremost, seniors need to recognize when there is a high risk of falls. For the elderly, recognizing this problem and starting a solution often falls to family caregivers. Seniors who have experienced an accidental fall are already at a high risk for future falls. Among seniors who have fallen, slower gait speed correlates with even greater increased risk. A gait speed of 0.6 to 1.0 meters per second correlates with a 51% increased likelihood of a fall over the next year. The slower the walk, the greater the risk. A gait speed of 0.6 m/s or less correlates with a 145% greater likelihood of a fall (38% vs 93%).1 In general, one-third of seniors living at home experience an accidental fall each year. Up to one in three of those falls result in an injury requiring medical care. Each year, one in ten people over the age of 65 go to a hospital emergency department because of a fall.2

Once a problem is recognized, a comprehensive program including physiotherapy can do a lot to protect seniors. Professionally-supervised therapeutic exercise alone is known to reduce the risk of accidental falls by 35%.3 Seeing other healthcare providers for services such as vision checks and medication reviews as well as home safety improvements may further reduce the risk of fall injuries.4 

At Advanced Physiotherapy a comprehensive fall-injury prevention program can include:

  • Gait training (including retraining on foot height and stride length)
  • Balance training – proprioceptive training
  • Transfer training (training for getting up and down from furniture)
  • Strengthening (lower & upper body)
  • Posture assessment and training
  • Consultation about home modifications
  • Evaluation for and training with adaptive equipment such as canes or walkers
  • Range of motion (arms, legs, and core)
  • Falling techniques to reduce injury from a fall
  • Trunk / core stability, & strengthening
  • Free access to our patient gym during physiotherapy

Our exercise physiologists Matt and Nicole Kent are experts at designing programs for falls prevention and have fun classes to assist with this.



  1. Viccaro L, Parera S, Studenski S. Is timed up and go better than gait speed in predicting health, function, and falls in older adults? J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011; 59 (5): 887-892.
  2. Hendrie D. Hall S, Arena G, Legge M. Health system costs of falls of older adults in Western Australia. Australian Health Review. 2004; 28 (3): 363-73.
  3. 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.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  National Center for Injury Prevention and Control,  Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention. Keep them STEADI: preventing older adult falls in hospital-based settings. Sept 2016. Available at:


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