Falls prevention takes the stage with UNTHSC helping lead the way

Nicoleta-Bugnariu-WEB-2
Nicoleta Bugnariu, PT, PhD

Grandma fell twice. She wasn’t badly hurt, but her family was shaken.

Nicoleta Bugnariu knew what to do. She used her physical therapy expertise to create a rigorous exercise program for her “Bunica,” Romanian for “grandmother.”

Dr. Bugnariu, PT, PhD, Associate Dean at UNT Health Science Center, chairs the Falls Prevention Task Force of the Fort Worth Safe Communities Coalition.

For more than a decade, she’s devoted her career to helping people not only keep from falling but enjoy vigorous and rewarding lives.

“My Grandmother is my role model,” Dr. Bugnariu said. “This work is in her honor.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, the work of the Falls Prevention Task Force culminates in Falls Prevention Day in Fort Worth. After Tarrant County Commissioners proclaim Falls Prevention Awareness Week, fun activities begin at 11:15 a.m. in Sundance Square downtown. Performers including the Steppin’ Grannies will demonstrate how staying physically active improves balance and strength and helps older people stay healthy and enjoy life.

Also at Sundance Square, representatives of the Falls Prevention Task Force and Senior Citizen Services will provide information on preventing falls. (National Falls Prevention Day is Sept. 23, the first day of fall.)

Every year, one in three people 65 and older takes a fall. Falling accounts for 13.5 percent of emergency room visits among people 65 and older, and the percentage goes up to 20 percent among those 85 and older.

That didn’t happen to Dr. Bugnariu’s grandmother. Her name was Oniga Florica, and she had Parkinson’s disease. She lived with Dr. Bugnariu’s mom in Montreal, and with her help and Dr. Bugnariu’s exercise program, she lived to see her 98th birthday. She was active until the last week of her life.

Fast facts from Nicoleta Bugnariu

  1. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths, unintentional injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
  2. The risk of falling can be reduced through interventions such as:
    • a fall risk assessment
    • regular physical activity to improve balance
    • medication management
    • home safety assessment and modifications.
  3. Older adults are encouraged to discuss possible fall risks with health care providers and to enroll in A Matter of Balance free workshops.

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