Fall Prevention in Older Adults

By: Kate Bellucci PT, DPT, MSCS, Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported, “Every year, 1 out of 3 older adults fall, yet less than HALF tell their doctors.” You may ask why it is important to share this information with your physician. After all, you didn't hurt yourself when you fell and “it only happens every once in a while” or you “know how to fall safely by now”. However, a scary statistic provided by the American Physical Therapy Association states that “every 13 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency department for a fall-related injury and every 20 minutes, an older adult dies as a result of a fall”. Fall prevention education is an integral piece to the aging puzzle. If physicians are unaware of their patients falling at home, they are unable to make the appropriate referrals or adjust medications, which may be contributing to a new onset of falls.

Please take a few minutes to refer to the fall risk assessment below titled “Stay Independent Brochure” provided by the Stopping Elderly Accidents, Death & Injuries initiative by the CDC. If you scored 4 points or more on this fall risk assessment, you may be at risk for falling. It is importance to discuss these answers with your physician and discuss the role of physical therapy in your safety plan.

Physical therapists are trained to provide safety education, assess contributing factors related to falls, and provide you with appropriate strength, balance, and other recommendations based on your evaluation. A physical therapist will screen your appropriateness for other professionals such as an occupational therapist, podiatrist, or orthopedist. You may also benefit from the use of an assistive device such as a cane, walker, or elevated toilet seat for improved safety in your home and community. If you are noticing an increase in fall frequency, have fallen in the past year, or feel unsteady when performing your daily activities, please request an appointment with your physician and a physical therapist.

At Saint Barnabas Medical Center Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Center, we have a strong team of therapists who are ready to take care of all your physical and occupational therapy needs. To schedule an appointment with us, please call 973-322-7500.

12-item questionnaire “Stay Independent Brochure”


Kate Bellucci PT, DPT, MSCS

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Multiple Sclerosis Certified Specialist

LSVT BIG certified

Phone: 973-322-7389

E-mail: Katharine.bellucci@rwjbh.org

Kate is a physical therapist at the Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center. She primarily treats patients with neurological conditions and patients with gait, balance, and endurance impairments. Kate completed her bachelor’s degree in science at Michigan State University in 2014 then went on to complete her doctorate in physical therapy at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois in 2018. She was granted the Multiple Sclerosis Rehabilitation Scholarship from the Consortium of MS Centers in 2019 and became a Multiple Sclerosis Certified Specialist and an LSVT BIG certified therapist in 2020. She serves as a member of the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Rehabilitation Professionals and the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers. She is from Somerville, NJ and still resides there with her husband, Eric and puppy, Lilly. When she is not working you will find her walking her dog, spending time with family and friends, or reading.

The Saint Barnabas Medical Center Rehabilitation centers are open and ready to help you achieve your goals. With four locations in West Orange, Millburn and Livingston, the experienced and compassionate staff at Saint Barnabas Rehabilitation offers adults and children the specialized care they need to resume an active life after surgery, injury or illness. They are committed to providing patients with the most advanced services in a safe, caring and soothing environment. For high-risk patients who are unable to visit in person, telehealth is an option. Patients do not need a prescription for physical therapy services.