Des Moines University Physical Therapy Clinic is adding another exercise class to its growing list of offerings. With Tai Chi for Arthritis and Active Older Adult Exercise, the PT Clinic has already made a commitment to the health and wellness of the senior population. The newest class, Stepping On, builds on that with a seven-week course focused on fall prevention.
Falls are the leading cause of injury hospitalizations and emergency room visits among older adults. In Iowa, older adults are six times more likely to die from a fall than people of all other ages. Stepping On is a proven program that helps participants identify why they fall and prevent future falls through strength and balance exercises, a home safety check and a medication review.
“Reducing the number of falls would be a great benefit for the health and well-being of Iowa citizens,” says Sharon Johansen, M.S., ATC, PTA, a physical therapist assistant and one of the instructors of Stepping On. “This evidence-based program has been shown to result in a 31% decrease in falls for those participating in the classes.”
Johansen and Michelle Brown, M.S.P.T., saw the program as a way to enrich the balance and fall prevention focus in the clinic. They attended a three-day leadership training workshop to gain the expertise to lead the program at DMU. Many organizations are offering the program through a $175,000 state grant, but the Des Moines University Physical Therapy Clinic class is the only one in Des Moines taught by licensed physical therapy clinicians, who are best trained to teach the exercises.
“Having both a physical therapist and physical therapist assistant leading the Des Moines University program allows participants a weekly opportunity to have their exercises modified or progressed and address specific questions regarding their exercises and balance,” says Brown.
Stepping On runs May 20 to July 1, on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Registration is now open for the initial seven-week series. Additional sessions will be offered in the fall and on an annual basis starting next year.