Moffitt Cancer Center Presents Fall Prevention Awareness Day

September 16, 2015

TAMPA, Fla. – Unintentional falls are the leading cause of injury death and nonfatal injury-related hospital admissions among Florida residents older than 65. Newly diagnosed cancer patients are also at an elevated risk of injuries due to falls.

On Wednesday, Sept. 23 - the first day of autumn - Moffitt Cancer Center will host Fall Prevention Awareness Day on its main campus from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Vincent A. Stabile Research Building, 12902 Magnolia Drive, in hopes of preventing some unnecessary hospital stays for Floridians. 

“Typically fall risks are highest for elderly patients,” says Cassandra Vonnes, geriatric clinical specialist at Moffitt. “But because of the treatments they receive, cancer patients are also at a high risk for falls and we want to protect our patients as best we can. Approximately 20 percent of patients 65 years or older with newly diagnosed cancer experience a fall at home within the first six months after diagnosis.” 

Another study found that the rate of falls in older cancer patients was significantly higher than those without cancer. 

Moffitt hopes to educate patients and caregivers about the risks of falling. Physical and occupational therapists and registered nurses will be on hand throughout Fall Prevention Awareness Day to perform fall risk assessments to patients free of charge. Assessments include screenings for postural blood pressure, balance, home safety, safe patient handling tutorials for caregivers and a vision health booth.

From 10 to 11 a.m., Tai Chi Instructor Connie Bainbridge will demonstrate how the practice can improve balance for oncology patients. 

Hip fractures are the result of 25 percent of unintentional fall-related deaths and responsible for 32 percent of non-fatal unintentional fall-related injury hospitalizations in 2012. Traumatic brain injuries were related to 61 percent of unintentional fall-related deaths and responsible for 13 percent of non-fatal hospitalizations related to unintentional falls.

Besides being detrimental to quality of life and independence, falls are also devastating economically. Direct medical costs related to falls total $34 billion annually.

About Moffitt Cancer Center

Located in Tampa, Moffitt is one of only 45 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, its contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the top-ranked cancer hospital in Florida and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of the “Best Hospitals” for cancer care since 1999. With more than 4,600 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $1.9 billion. For more information, visit, and follow the Moffitt momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.