Experts from School of Health Sciences Teach Fall-Prevention Tips to Suffolk’s Seniors

PT Professors Demonstrate Balance Exercises and Safe Footwear, Among Other Tips, to Seniors at Northport Public Library

May 19, 2016
Dr. Christopher Voltmer, a professor of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Touro College School of Health Sciences, at Northport Public Library with the spring graduating class of Suffolk County’s falls prevention series, “Stepping On: Building Confidence, Reducing Falls, and Staying Independent for Life.”

New York, N.Y. - Faculty experts from Touro College School of Health Sciences partnered with Suffolk County Department of Health (DOH) recently for a community-wide fall prevention program called “Stepping On: Building Confidence, Reducing Falls, and Staying Independent for Life.”

Dr. Christopher Voltmer, a professor of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, and Dr. Laura Hagan, Director of Clinical Education of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, led instructional sessions at Northport Public Library that included tips for improving strength, balance, mobility, and vision; assessing fall-risk hazards at home; recovering after a fall; and even choosing safe clothing and footwear. Drs. Voltmer and Hagan demonstrated exercises, answered questions and discussed strategies to prevent falls at home and in the community. The participants practiced the exercises and the experts helped them modify them to meet their particular needs.  

In a 2013 report, falls were the most frequent cause of accidental death and disability among individuals aged 65 and over according to the Center for Disease Control. And because the U.S. population is aging, both the number of falls and the costs to treat fall injuries are likely to rise. The “Stepping On” classes are part of a state-wide program created to empower older adults to reduce the risks of falls and improve their quality of life.

Dr. Voltmer said the interactive nature of the program is important for building confidence in the participants. “Our goal is prophylactic treatment− shifting the emphasis to preventing falls before they happen. Knowledge is everything and we are addressing this by creating more awareness among members of the community about ways to avoid falls. After participating in this program, we know there’s a definite reduction in fall-related injuries among seniors,” said Dr. Voltmer.

Dr. Hagan added, “It’s not just about exercising. It’s about developing the ability to negotiate surroundings.”  

Mindy Giambalvo RN, MS, Ed, who is Falls Prevention Coordinator with the Suffolk County Dept. of Health Services, said the participation and expertise from Touro College “is a valuable component of the program.”   

Dr. Hagan agreed, “The program has been a great opportunity for Touro’s SHS to help seniors who want to continue to be independent. These seniors are there because they have either fallen before or know someone who has. They understand the devastating impact a fall could have on their way of life and they are motivated to prevent them from happening in the future.”

There are plans to incorporate students from SHS, as well as faculty, into future “Stepping On” sessions.