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Women may benefit from fall screening at any age

Physical therapists should consider screening women for fall risks, according to a study that was presented at Touro College Research Day show.

Current practice guidelines recommend that everyone over age 65 should be screened for fall risk. “The purpose of the study was to determine if there was a need for fall screening in the outpatients setting in younger people,” says Joseph Hayes, Jr. DPT, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy at Touro College School of Health Sciences. “We were concerned about those under age 65, who may be at risk for falls.”

The study also compared a quick 10-minute balance screening test, called the Brief BESTest (BBT), with other standard but more time-consuming screening tests to see if the shorter test was as accurate as the more comprehensive ones.

Physical therapists screened 45 patients between the ages of 21 to 89, who were being treated with physical therapy. They used the BTT as well as four other standard balance measures.

They found that for women under 65, there was a benefit to screen for falls but not for men. As patients got older, their fall scores did get worse. They also found that the Brief BESTest was as valid as the longer tests, making the test a help tool for faster routine screening.

“It may be helpful to screen women of any age for the risk of falls,” says Dr. Hayes. “We’re continuing the study and hoping to break risk down more my age.”