Physical Therapy students help teach seniors to overcome fear of falling

September 17, 2014

Within the same month, Winnie Raspberry lost her husband and was in a serious car accident. Now living alone, she was fearful of falling and not certain how to handle it.

Then she learned about A Matter of Balance, an eight-week workshop in which Physical Therapy students from UNT Health Science Center teach seniors how to reduce falls, how to manage them when they occur and how to improve strength and balance.

“The students gave us good instructions on learning different exercises and stretches and taught us how to properly get up after a fall,” said Raspberry, who fell shortly after she completed the class but used tips she had learned. “I am grateful to them for helping us.”

A Matter of Balance, a collaborative pilot program with Senior Citizen Services of Tarrant County (SCSTC), included 27 UNTHSC PT students, who were trained and certified to become coaches.

“This was such a rewarding experience being able to see these seniors who were once fearful of falling, now becoming empowered because they were given various exercises to help strengthen muscles and tips to avoid falls,” first-year student Becca Peters said.

Lindsay Lindeman, Matter of Balance facilitator for SCSTC, praised the students’ dedication.

“The students took ownership of the class, and we appreciate them helping empower the participants,” she said.

Nicoleta Bugnariu, PT, PhD, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy and Chair of the Falls Prevention Task Force with Safe Communities of Fort Worth, said UNTHSC is looking forward to expanding its collaboration with SCSTC.

“These service-learning activities, in which students learn while providing a service to the community are fulfilling the UNTHSC mission of creating solutions for a healthier community,” she said.

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