To help Americas seniors stay on their feet and free of injury, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) have developed a set of simple guidelines designed to help older Americans avoid falls and lower the incidence of serious injury when falls occur. The two organizations will launch a public service announcement (PSA) campaign in March 2007 to spread the word to active seniors.


More and more American seniors are remaining active as they age, which is a very positive and healthy trend; however, as we age our bones become more brittle and the risk of serious injury from falling down also increases, said James H. Beaty, MD, president of AAOS. Seniors can help protect themselves against injuries by making some very simple changes around the house and by adopting an ongoing exercise regime.


One in three adults over age 65 falls each year in the United States, adds Chuck Kimmel, ATC, president of NATA.  Falling injuries for senior citizens can be not only traumatic, but also life threatening and the healing process is slower. Incorporating balance, strength and flexibility routines into daily activities is essential to stave off the risk of falling.


NATA and AAOS offer active seniors the following guidelines to guard against injuries caused by falling:


Keep your muscles and bones strong, by following an exercise regimen:

  • Strength training with weight bearing and resistive exercise works for all age groups.
  • Practice exercises designed to help improve balance.
  • Exercise at least three days a week to improve strength, flexibility and balance.
  • Choose low-impact exercises to avoid stress on your joints.
  • Stretch daily to improve flexibility and mobility.
  • Be creative! Try Tai Chi, pilates and yoga for variety.

Make your home safer by making some simple improvements:

  • Good lighting, without extension cords, to eliminate dark areas.
  • Slip-resistant walking surfaces.
  • Grab-bars and a night light in the bathroom.
  • Handrails on both sides of stairs extending one foot beyond last step.
  • Remove throw rugs from doorways and hallways.

If you have fallen before, follow these recommendations:

  • Consider a full physical evaluation and balance screen, including vision and hearing tests.
  • Wear shoes with good support, such as lace-up oxford shoes with leather soles and rubber heels.

Featuring a woman balancing on a tightrope and the headline, Dont let gravity be your downfall, AAOS and NATA will kick off the yearlong public service campaign in March. It will appear in major consumer magazines and daily newspapers nationwide; it will also appear on billboards at select airports throughout the country. The campaign also coincides with National Athletic Training Month in March which promotes the theme of Quality Health Care and Wellness.


It is important that aging Americans continue to exercise and stay in shape, as well as take other steps to prevent injuries from falls, adds Frank B. Kelly, MD, chair, AAOS Communications Cabinet. NATA and AAOS hope the PSA campaign and guidelines will help educate seniors on how to guard against falls and strengthen their bodies if falls occur.


When injuries from falls occur, many Americans turn to certified athletic trainers and orthopaedic surgeons for help. Athletic trainers are health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses that occur in active people of all ages, Kimmel said.  Orthopaedic surgeons are essential for diagnosing and treating bone, joint and muscle-related injuries and getting seniors back in action.


The campaign is the third in a series of annual print PSA efforts launched jointly by both groups, since they have proven to be an effective way to disseminate critical health care information. Previous campaigns focused on youth sport overuse injuries and baby boomer injury prevention ads. For more information about fall prevention, visit the AAOS website or the NATA website.


About the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS):

With 29,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, is a not-for-profit organization that advocates improved patient care, provides education programs for orthopaedic surgeons, allied health professionals and the public.  The AAOS will celebrate its 75th Anniversary at our 2008 Annual Meeting in San Francisco.  Visit and be a part of our history!


About the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA):

Athletic trainers are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. For more information, visit


NATA and AAOS are participating in the Bone and Joint Decade (, the global initiative in the years 2002-2011 to raise awareness of musculoskeletal health to stimulate research and improve people's quality of life. President Bush has declared the years 2002-2011 National Bone and Joint Decade in support of these objectives.