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Even Slight, Relatively Inexpensive Home Modifications can Protect People from Falls

Researchers testing the safety benefits of relatively inexpensive and simple home modifications found the modifications went a long way in preventing falls and injuries related to those falls. Those modifications included; adding handrails on outside steps and stairs inside the house; bathroom grab bars; outside lighting; outside slip-resistant step edging; slip-resistant surfaces on outdoor decks and porches; and fixing lifted edges on carpeting and mats inside the house.

Specifically, the researchers found people in homes with the modifications were 26 percent less likely to experience injuries from falling compared to people in homes without the modifications.

To do the study, which was published September 23, 2014 in the scientific journal The Lancet, researchers in New Zealand employed a builder to implement minor housing repairs, typically costing $300 to $600. For the sake of comparison, the work was done initially on 436 houses and not in 406 houses (the other houses received the modifications later). The researchers then analyzed both groups (houses with and without modifications) for an average of 1,148 days to determine whether the intervention reduced claims for injuries from home falls.

Falling is a big problem, especially among people 65 and older. They commonly result in severe injuries, including hip fracture. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of three adults aged 65 or older falls each year. And up to 30 percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, and head traumas. These injuries can rob them of their independence—even increase risk of an early death.

Physical therapists are trained to help people prevent falls. A structured physical therapy fall prevention program can include not only exercises to improve strength, balance, agility and flexibility, but also recommendations on how to modify home and work environments to prevent falls. For more information about what a physical therapist can do for you, contact A Physical Therapist, Inc.

A Physical Therapist, Inc., is a one-on-one physical therapy clinic in Delray Beach, Fla., and Harrisburg, Penn. For patients in Palm Beach County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Boca Raton or Boynton Beach. For patients in Dauphin County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Hershey and Marysville.

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