Every year one out of every three adults over the age of 65 experiences a fall. Of those, 20 to 30% will suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures and head traumas. These injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently, and even increase the risk of early death. Also, many people who fall develop a fear of falling that causes them to limit their activities leading to reduced mobility and quality of life.
New technology might help prevent many of these falls. Created by Physical Therapist Cynthia Gibson-Horn from Oakland, California, BalanceWear® is a weighted vest that uses counter-balancing to improve balance losses caused by neurologic and orthopedic conditions. The vest, which is a lot like a lightweight fishing vest, incorporates very light strategically-placed weights that are detected by the nervous system, resulting in an immediate improvement in balance. Weights are placed by a BalanceWear-trained therapist and are customized to positively impact individual balance issues. Velcro panels inside the vest allow therapists to move the cube-shaped weights around as they test the effect of various placements.
BalanceWear has been approved for therapy with MS and other illnesses. However, now researchers are determining if the vest could help reduce falls in older people. If these studies prove successful, the vest could become covered by Medicare. Country Meadows of Hershey and West Shore in Mechanicsburg, as well as Ecumenical Retirement Community in Harrisburg, have been invited to participate in a University of Arkansas and Motion Therapeutics research study that could lead to a drastic reduction in falls with these vests. We have asked our residents to consider participating in this research.
Our fitness teams will be working with the research teams. The research team will evaluate every volunteer to determine if he/she fits their established criteria. It is important to note that Country Meadows has absolutely no say on who is selected for the study. Our role is to fund the costs of the vests and invite willing participants.
Frequently Asked Questions:
We understand you may have questions about this study prior to volunteering to participate. Please download and review the Frequently Asked Questions for more specific details.
Hear Donna Terry's story of her success in regaining her life and independence through the use of her BalanceWear vest.