Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | December 5, 2012

Spring Forward; Don’t Fall Back

Better Balance is a Learned Skill

By Taylor Leach

Unfortunately, falls are inevitable. According to The National Safety Council, at least 30 percent of adults over age 65 and half of those over age 80 will fall each year.

We can’t prevent every fall from happening, but there are a few ways to help prevent repeated falls – and the severity of the injuries that may result. Building more lower body strength and practicing walking and balance techniques can help lessen the blow of the injury. The Wellness Center at Duke Raleigh Hospital now offers a Better Balance class to assist in the prevention of falls.

While our Wellness Center does not treat the injuries that may result from a fall (Duke Raleigh physicians do that), we can “treat” the loss of confidence that often accompanies a fall. When someone falls, his or her confidence walking outside or on unfamiliar grounds may go down tremendously. The lessons and techniques we use in class relate to everyday life and will help the participant gain the confidence lost in the fall.

The Better Balance class is a 12-week program that takes place on Mondays and Wednesdays for 30 minutes each day. We begin with a brief balance assessment before the 12-week program and conclude with one, too. Participants, who are generally 65 and older, should be able to walk independently – with or without assistive devices – rise from a chair at least one time during the class and participate in light exercise for at least 20 minutes.

Class participants can expect to learn ways to strengthen the lower body; do balance-specific, as well as balance-challenge, exercises; and work on flexibility. Every class starts with a warm-up and ends with a cool-down. There’s also one session where we teach the correct form to get up from a fall.

We cap the class at 12 participants to ensure plenty of one-on-one help from instructors. If you’re already a member of the Wellness Center, the class is offered at no charge. Non-members can sign up, too, but there’s a $100 fee.

Like the nursery rhyme says, “We all fall down.” But, our Better Balance class can help make falls less likely and less traumatic.

Taylor Leach is an exercise specialist at the Duke Raleigh Wellness Center and is the primary teacher of Better Balance. To learn more about the class, please contact Sandra Jean Evans at 919-954-3174 or by email.

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