Use of Physical Therapy and Subsequent Falls among Patients with Dizziness in the US

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Abstract

Importance: Among adults who present for clinical evaluation of dizziness, there is a critical need to identify interventions, such as physical therapy (PT), to mitigate the risk of falls over time. Objective: The primary objective was to examine the association between receipt of PT and falls requiring medical care within 12 months of presentation for dizziness. Secondary objectives included identification of factors associated with falls requiring medical care and factors associated with receipt of PT after presentation for dizziness. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional study examined US commercial insurance and Medicare Advantage claims from January 1, 2006, through December 31, 2015. In all, 805454 patients 18 years or older with a new diagnosis of symptomatic dizziness or vestibular disorders were identified. Data were analyzed from October 1, 2021, to February 1, 2023. Main Outcomes and Measures: Receipt of PT services and the incidence of falls requiring medical care were measured. The association between receipt of PT and falls that occurred 12 months after presentation for dizziness was estimated after accounting for presentation setting (outpatient clinic or emergency department), Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI; with higher scores indicating greater morbidity), diagnosis code, and sociodemographic characteristics. Results: A total of 805454 patients presented for dizziness from 2006 through 2015 (median [range] age, 52 [18-87] years; 502055 females [62%]). Of these patients, 45771 (6%) received PT within 3 months of presentation for dizziness and 60060 (7%) experienced a fall resulting in a medical encounter within 12 months after presentation for dizziness. In adjusted models, patients least likely to receive PT were female (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 0.80; 95% CI, 0.78-0.81), those aged 50 to 59 years (AOR, 0.67 [95% CI, 0.65-0.70] compared with patients aged 18-39 years), and those with more comorbidities (AOR, 0.71 [95% CI, 0.70-0.73] for CCI ≥ 2 vs 0). Receipt of PT services within 3 months of presentation for dizziness was associated with a reduced risk of falls over the subsequent 12 months, with the greatest risk reduction found within 3 months after PT (AOR, 0.14 [95% CI, 0.14-0.15] at 3-12 months vs 0.18 [95% CI, 0.18-0.19] at 6-12 months and 0.23 [95% CI, 0.23-0.24] at 9-12 months). Conclusions and Relevance: Results of this cohort study suggest that receipt of PT after presentation for dizziness was associated with a reduction in fall risk during the subsequent 12 months; thus, timely PT referral for dizziness may be beneficial for these patients. Future research, ideally with a clinical trial design, is needed to explore the independent impact of PT on subsequent falls for adults with dizziness..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1083-1090
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Volume149
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 14 2023

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