The $1.8 Billion Problem ACC Wants to Solve

Published on 2nd April 2023.

ACC is launching a free app to help people combat the most common preventable injury in the country – falls.

In 2022, ACC accepted 749,610 claims relating to fall-related injuries, with a cost of $1.8 billion. Over the last six years, fall-related injuries have cost the taxpayer $8.6b. James Whitaker, ACC injury prevention leader, said falls are more often than not preventable, and they have a massive impact both financially and socially. “If somebody does fall and they get injured, it doesn’t just affect them it affects their family, friends, workmates and their teammates too,” he said. Falls account for 39% of all ACC claims, with one in three people over 65 injuring themselves in a fall every year, rising to one in two for people aged 80 or over. However, this did not have to be the case, Whitaker said. “We want people to realise that a fall and fall-related injuries don’t need to be a part of the ageing process … it’s been proven many times of over that if you improve your strength and your balance you can live a pretty active and fun lifestyle.” The Nymbl app launches on Monday April 3, which ACC hopes will help reduce the prevalence and social cost of falls. Colin McGregor, 64, took part in the app’s trial alongside 15,000 other New Zealanders. It boosted his confidence after he began to feel uneasy while riding his 1000cc Suzuki motorbike.

“I ride quite a big motorcycle and needed to make sure I was well-balanced … I noticed that my strength and my balance hadn’t been so good so when I saw it available I thought I’d give it a go.” McGregor said the exercises had helped him in everyday activities. “I felt a sense of improvement in how I was coping day-to-day … I’m much more confident in doing things that I might not otherwise have done, so I’m much more physically active than I used to be.” Recently completing a 3000km motorbike trip around the South Island, the physical toll of his motorbiking adventures were less of a worry now, he said. “I can see myself lasting on the bike a lot longer than I might’ve done otherwise.”

Using the app was a calming experience, and he appreciated being able to track his progress day-by-day, McGregor said. Although he found the app a bit difficult at first, he noticed it adapted the next session to reflect his feedback. Nymbl mixes physical activities with cognitive stimulation to keep users engaged as they strengthen their bodies and build up mental confidence. The cognitive activities include trivia and brain games to keep users engaged and keen to try again the next day.