Press-Republican

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November 14, 2012

Therapy program focuses on balance, reducing falls

PLATTSBURGH — Florence Kaufman experienced a couple of falls lately that weakened her confidence in getting around and performing routine daily activities.

Kaufman, affectionately known as “Flo” by her friends and loved ones, recently tripped over a toolbox and also tripped while climbing her stairway at home.

Though she was not seriously injured from either fall, it was a reminder that balance becomes a growing area of concern as people age.

“I never really realized what it takes to have balance,” said Kaufman, 64, who recently completed a physical-therapy program at One Step Ahead that focused on fall prevention. “The class has really taught me to be more conscious of my surroundings.”

The class, hosted by physical therapist Mariana Bartonicek, is geared toward senior citizens and anyone who may have balance problems because of a physical or medical condition.

“If we can do something to help prevent falls, we can also promote independence,” said Bartonicek, who has a doctorate in physical therapy from Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. “I worked a lot with older adults while in graduate school, and I fell in love with them.”

The program, which is held one hour per week over an eight-week period, concentrates on activities that emphasize the need to maintain balance.

“We try to make it fun,” Bartonicek said of the group activities. “We work on both balance and strength with the different kinds of activities we do.”

Although designed to be fun for participants, the activities do focus on serious requirements to help maintain balance.

“One of the simple things we did was walk on a pillow, the regular kind you would use on a bed,” said Kaufman, who lives in Plattsburgh. “It sounds easy, but it’s not. It kind of makes you wobble, and that forces you to concentrate.”

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