1,500 Arizonans have participated in community-outreach program

MESA, AZ – On Wednesday, January 8, Mesa’s A. T. Still University of Health Sciences (ATSU) will kick off the sixth year of its highly successful Still Standing Fall Prevention community-outreach program – the largest university-based fall-prevention initiative in the country. Since its launch in 2008, roughly 1,500 Arizonans have completed the life-saving program, which gives older adults the tools they need to prevent falls and manage the often-paralyzing fear of falling that comes with growing older.  According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, injuries sustained from falls are the leading cause of death in Arizonans 65 and older.

Sixty students from ATSU’s graduate programs in physical therapy, occupational therapy, audiology, athletic training, and osteopathic medicine will fan out across the Valley to teach the eight-week Still Standing course to approximately 400 older adults at more than 30 medical centers, rehabilitative facilities, and retirement homes and communities. They will be joined by nursing students from Phoenix’s Grand Canyon University, which ATSU enlisted to participate.  All of the student teachers have completed an eight-hour training program.

Arizona seniors who have participated in Still Standing report dramatic changes in their level of mobility and their attitude toward life. Typical are stories like the one shared by a Mesa woman who was so afraid to go out after falling in the street that she did not leave her apartment for a year. Persuaded to sign up for Still Standing, she now has the confidence to leave her home again. “My life became totally different,” she says.

Senior citizens are not the only ones benefiting from Still Standing. ATSU students, who receive community-service credit for participating, consistently report that teaching the course has given them invaluable insight into the sociological, psychological and economic challenges of aging.

ATSU’s program, which has been recognized locally by Governor Jan Brewer and nationally by the National Council on Aging, uses an award-winning curriculum called A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falls developed by Boston University.

Said Elton Bordenave, Director of the Aging Studies Project at ATSU’s Mesa campus and creator of Still Standing: “Our goal is to offer ATSU’s students a meaningful way to engage with older adults. This is a population with which many of our future graduates will work as doctors, audiologists, physical and occupational therapists and other healthcare specialists. The better they understand the challenges our older citizens face, the more productive and gratifying those relationships will be.”

Added Patricia League, National Program Manager for A Matter of Balance: “ATSU has been a light showing the path for other universities. Because of them, more and more universities around the country are creating ways for those involved in healthcare professions to interact with adults who want to remain independent and fully engaged with their communities.”

Arizona’s renowned Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute and Banner Health system are among the 12 partners at whose facilities Still Standing will be offered. Classes will be taught in Spanish, Mandarin and American Sign Language as well as English.

ATSU’s other partners are Apache ASL Trails, The Centers for Habilitation, East Valley Adult Resources, the Good Samaritan Society, Hometown America Retirement Communities, Native Health and the cities of Fountain Hills, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe.

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