Pines Programs Aims To Stop Falls



As people age, the threats of illness seem to grow all the more scary, but among the most dangerous threats to older people is simply taking a nasty fall. Pines of Sarasota on Wednesday formally launched a new program aimed at reducing the number of people suffering from such falls, using careful assessment and cutting edge technology to fight the force of gravity.

James Amistoso, director of Rehabilitation Services for Pines of Sarasota, said 80 to 90 percent of patients he sees at the Sarasota facility are prone to serious falls. “As we age, even a joint pain or stiff joint could cause you to be cockeyed balance-wise,” he said. “Knowing these problems right away is the key.”

Indeed, about a third of all Americans over the age of 65 suffer a fall each year. David Sylvester, the new president and CEO for Pines of Sarasota, said falls cost the nation and estimated $34 billion in the year 2013, and in 2012, falls cost Florida some $3.6 billion. “Given our aging population and the continued influx of retirees into Florida, one can only surmise the cost in Florida will rise at an accelerated rate,” Sylvester said.

The Ready and Steady Plan for Better Balance initiative unveiled by Pines of Sarasota aims to prevent falls through a four-step process including a questionnaire, medical evaluation and risk assessment, but the flashiest part of the Pines process is the use of the Biodex Balance System. Patients stand on an unsteady plate and the machine assesses how they respond to movement underfoot. That can be used to help in prevention by showing what individuals need to stay alert for based on their own physical condition. The same machine can also be used to help treat people after a fall as well and train them back into shape.

Pines of Sarasota officials hope the cutting edge program, developed at Pines of Sarasota over the last six months, will become a useful tool here and elsewhere in reducing the number of people hurt in falls.

Photo: James Amistoso works with a patient on the Biodex Balance System.

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