Balance is based on three separate senses: vision, the vestibular system in the ears that controls balance, and information sent from the feet to the brain during movement.
“As we get older, things happen that affect those things that control balance,” Bartonicek said. “Our vision gets worse; the mechanisms in our ears (that control balance) are not as fine-tuned; our ankles are weaker and stiffer.”
Strength is an important component of balance, and much of the course focuses on strengthening the ankles.
Bartonicek initially works one-on-one with a potential client to determine if a balance program will benefit the person.
“We use standardized tests to see how a person’s balance is,” she explained. “With the results (from those tests), we can develop a program tailored toward whatever that person needs to work on.”
She also wants to strengthen a participant’s confidence.
“The No. 1 risk for falls is a lack of confidence,” she explained. “When a person tenses up (from a lack of confidence), the risk is more likely for a fall.”
Kaufman feels her confidence has increased tremendously since taking the course.
“I try to think ahead and adjust to certain things,” she said. “When I go to somebody’s house, I am more conscious of things like throw rugs and steps than I was before. Just in terms of being careful, I’m much more confident.”
Bartonicek also provides participants with activities they can continue to use once they complete the course. She has had some people sign up for a second round.
“I have three basic rules for class: be safe, stand up straight, and have fun.”
Health insurance does not cover the program at this time, but Bartonicek said she is planning on writing some grants to seek funding for the program.
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TO LEARN MORE
For more information on the balance-therapy program offered by Mariana Bartonicek, contact One Step Ahead Physical Therapy at 561-2225 or email info@oneste paheadpt.com.