Media report on fall risk mitigation study at Orono nursing home

WABI (Channel 5) and News Center Maine reported University of Maine researchers are working with residents of the Orono Commons nursing home to evaluate the potential for group exercise to reduce fall risk and improve balance. 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. “We’re really working on strengthening different muscles that might be used to keep someone from falling,” Nightingale told WABI. “So we want to use their arms if they’re using a walker or strengthen their legs when we do some standing exercises.” 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. “Beyond the physical benefits that we’re looking for, I think just the chance to interact with some different people, I think our residents really appreciate that,” Nightingale said. Elizabeth Batts, a resident at Orono Commons, has been taking part in the research. “I have not gone outdoors to walk that much because of the winter,” she told News Center Maine. “I have been waiting for summertime. So this exercise is really good. I love it.”