Lavon Edwards suffers from vertigo, and she’s a prime candidate for a serious fall.
“It’s like everything spins around and you can’t stand up. You have to fall one way or the other,” says Edwards.
Lavon is not alone. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans. In fact, 1 in 4 Americans age 65+, falls every year.
Lavon wants to lower her risk, so she trains on a device called a core balance machine. It strengthens her leg muscles and improves her reflexes. Essentially she stands on a disc, which is part of a device which looks like a treadmill. She presses the disc forward, backwards and side to side with her feet, while visually guiding a cartoon penguin on the video screen in front of her.
“It allows her body to learn how to correct if she’s out in the community or at home,” says Sarah Fitzgerald, who runs the forward rehabilitation program at american senior communities. “If she has an episode of lost balance, ideally this with this training under her belt, she’s able to correct that.”
Candidates for core balance are folks who may have suffered a stroke, or had a cardiovascular incident. Surgery patients are good candidates as well.
“It really is meant to challenge those higher level balance issues that we see a lot. And it’s in a fun way,” says Fitzgerald.
Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments in this country. By the year 2020, some estimate 67.7 billion dollars will be spent treating older adults who fall.
Reasons for increased risk for falls include decreasing strength, an already weak sense of balance, declining eyesight, loss of flexibility, decreased endurance and a decreased ability and desire to walk.
Lavon is one of those clients who can benefit from the core balance machine. Though she admits, it’s a little frustrating, in a good way.
“It can be a little confusing, especially when you’re trying to stay stable. I guess it’s tricky, in a good way.”
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