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Thursday, August 12, 2004
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Seminar examines balance and gait instability

ATHENS, Ohio (Aug. 12, 2004) -- The summer series of Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine's Geriatric Education Series concludes Monday, Aug. 16, with Sam Simons, a physical therapist at Ohio University Therapy Associates Balance Clinic, presenting "Balance and Gait Instability." The seminar will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in conference room B-9 at O'Bleness Memorial Hospital.

Just as the American population is aging -- more than 40 million Americans will be over the age of 54 by 2010 -- the incidence and severity of falls among the elderly are increasing as well. More than two million people over the age of 65 suffer at least one significant fall each year. Simons' presentation will help health-care professionals identify the problems with balance and walking, and will focus his presentation on identifying those people at risk for falls. Risk factors include muscle weakness, history of falls, gait instability, visual impairment, arthritis, depression and cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer's disease. Once risk factors are assessed a treatment program, featuring physical therapy, can be put into place.

"People involved in exercise programs have benefited from reduced risk of falling again. They have better gait, better balance, better endurance and studies have shown there has been a reduction in falls," said Ellen Peterson, R.N., OU-COM geriatric education coordinator.

"Two-thirds of all deaths caused by accidents among the elderly are due to falls," she added.

Health-care professionals are invited to attend the seminar. Brown bags are welcome. For more information, call the Geriatric Education Center at (740) 593-2258. Each lecture in this series of Geriatric Medicine/Gerontology seminars is held from noon to 1 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month at O'Bleness, room B-9.

This is the final seminar in the summer series. The first was July 7, with Steven Clay, D.O., OU-COM associate professor of geriatric medicine, who presented "Pain Management Problems in Geriatrics." The second seminar, "Assistive Technology for Communication Rehabilitation," was presented by Kimberly Hale, July 21. Karen Zehtab presented "Skin Ulcer Assessment and Management," July 19, and Allison Bachelor, M.D., OU-COM associate professor of geriatrics, presented "An Introduction to the Care of Older Adults, Aug 2.

"The seminars are designed for an interdisciplinary audience," said Peterson. "Health professionals from the community regularly attend, in addition to interns, residents and medical students. The diversity of disciplines represented by the participants makes for an interesting exchange of ideas."

The sponsors of the seminars include OU-COM's Department Geriatric Medicine/Gerontology, the Western Reserve Geriatric Education Center and Area Health Education Center, and the Consortium for Health Education in Appalachia Ohio.

Peterson said the seminar series was started by a federal grant that established OU-COM as a contribution site to the Western Reserve Geriatric Education Center in September 1994 and has supported many continuing education programs. Provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, the grant supports educational programs in geriatric and gerontology for physicians, nurses, social workers, counselors and health-care providers to 22 Southeastern Ohio counties.

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Media Contact: Writer/editor Kevin Sanders, (740) 593-0896

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