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East County Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 5 years ago

Pines of Sarasota takes a stand against falls

A new fall-prevention program assesses your risk of falling and makes suggestions for improvement.
by: Amanda Morales Staff Writer

With age comes poise. With more age comes loss of balance. 

Pines of Sarasota, a rehabilitation and senior care community, hopes to combat injuries, hospitalizations and even deaths resulting from falls with risk assessment tests. 

The Ready & Steady program has been offered to residents at Pines of Sarasota on a trial basis and now is open to the public. 

“Most of the time we see patients in rehab, unfortunately, is after the fact that they’ve fallen already or have injuries,” said Joel Amistoso, director of rehabilitation services at Pines of Sarasota. “If we can actually see them ahead of time, hopefully, we can help to prevent the fall and having to have a new hip or new knee.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals 65 and older who fall once are two to three times more likely to fall again. Statistics from the CDC also show that falls result in more than 2.5 million injuries, more than 734,000 hospitalizations and more than 21,700 deaths each year.  

Amistoso said that many of the ways older adults end up with injuries result from doing the activities they enjoy most, such as tennis, golf and walking along the beach. 

Through the Ready & Steady program, he can better determine what measures patients can take to prevent potential falls.

First, patients answer a questionnaire that asks questions varying from what prescriptions they take to their level of activity. 

“Believe it or not, just doing the questionnaire will tell you if you’re going to be at risk or not,” Amistoso said. “An example would be if you’re taking more than four medications — that is combining over the county and prescription drugs. If so, the CDC says you’re already at a higher risk.”

Other questions on the test help determine the patient’s level of strength or physical limitations. For example, whether a patient has been to an eye doctor in the last 12 months is an indication of their level of depth perception.

The second step is called a “T.U.G.” test or a Timed Up and Go test. This test measures how long it takes the patient to stand from a sitting position and walk 10 feet, turn around and return to a chair to sit down. 

The “T.U.G.” test is followed by standing on a Biodex Balance System machine. Patients step up to a platform with a blue disk below their feet. A screen in front of them shows two dots on a target. The goal is to keep both dots lined up in the center of the target by balancing while the disk shifts in different directions. Armrests on the side of the platform allow patients to catch themselves if they become off-balance, but the objective is to do the exercise with as little support as possible. 

The results of all three tests are then compiled to determine the best ways to prevent future falls. Pines of Sarasota offers clients physical therapy and other treatments to help clients improve balance, for example.

“It can be as simple as doing your own thing at home, or maybe you need to go back to your doctor and get that medication checked,” Amistoso said. “Maybe from time to time you may need physical therapy. If you have joint pain, stiffness or your balance is not straight, we can work with you with that.”

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