UMaine researchers studying fall risk mitigation with seniors at Orono Commons

Researchers from the University of Maine are working with residents of the Orono Commons nursing home to evaluate the potential for group exercise to reduce fall risk and improve balance in a senior population.

Christopher Nightingale, assistant professor of physical education and athletic training, and Jennifer McNulty, lecturer in health education and lifespan, are leading the pilot study with the help of two undergraduate students majoring in kinesiology and physical education.

Since early April, the team has been leading group exercise classes at Orono Commons. In addition to assessing whether the classes can help mitigate falls and improve balance, the researchers are evaluating whether group exercise leads to improvement in seniors’ self-efficacy around fall risk when performing activities of daily living, such as walking across a room or climbing a flight of stairs. They’re also using the balance assessment tool OptoGait to determine if there’s a correlation between self-efficacy surrounding fall risk and balance.