Technology for Seniors in Motion: Preventing Falls, Enriching Lives



Gabe Stiver, Supervisor, The Connection, and Fay Bauer, a Twin Lakes resident, demonstrate the assessment and measurement capabilities of the VSTBalance System.

Photo by Tracy Doyle

 

Twin Lakes Senior Living Community residents are embracing state-of-the-art technology that accurately tracks and measures balance and gait as part of a comprehensive Balance Initiative that Life Enriching Communities implemented last year.

VSTBalance, designed by VirtuSense Technologies, is a 3D motion analysis system that employs a single infrared camera to administer evidenced-based standardized gait and balance tests. Individuals walk or perform other tasks in front of the camera allowing the system to analyze their abilities compared to a database of their peers. VSTBalance not only identifies limitations and areas of concern but will provide a detailed report from which an improvement plan can be created.

Twin Lakes, and sister community Twin Towers, are the only senior living communities in the Cincinnati area currently offering this technology, says Lisa Zimmers, Twin Lakes Administrator. This technology completes the Balance Initiative, which also includes education and core strengthening.

The VSTBalance system establishes baseline metrics, and can track progress and measure outcomes. “It’s a tremendous tool to create a strategy to improve balance. For example, if it takes a resident more than .6 seconds to walk 10 feet, they are identified as a potential fall risk. We can then work with them using the data the VSTBalance program provides and, with later re-evaluations, show them how they’ve improved from where they started,” Zimmers explains.

The overall goal of the Balance Initiative is to reduce or eliminate resident fall risk as part of their health and wellness philosophy. Twin Lakes is involving all team members – dining services, events and programs, environmental services, etc. – in this initiative because proper balance affects every day activities such as getting in and out of the car, picking things up off the floor and moving around one’s home.

An estimated 1 in 4 people age 65 and older fall, Zimmers continues. “And if you fall once, you’re twice as likely to fall again. We’ve always monitored falls, but now we’re digging deeper into the data and evaluating the information more methodically to make sure we are doing everything we can to prevent them.”

The interactive VSTBalance motion analysis equipment arrived at Twin Lakes in March. “While it is an important asset for the Balance Initiative, it has also been a valuable tool for our short-term rehabilitation program,” Zimmers notes.

According to Gabe Stiver, who supervises The Connection, Twin Lakes’ wellness center, the residents who have elected to use the equipment have offered nothing but positive feedback.

“We offer balance classes here, and we advise residents what to work on. But with the VSTBalance equipment, they can see what they need to work on for themselves,” Stiver says.

Twin Lakes resident Fay Bauer was one of the first to fully embrace the VSTBalance program, and her overall balance has improved 35% since March.

Working toward an improvement score is a challenge residents have welcomed, Zimmers and Stiver add.

“The Initiative is really about educating residents on what it takes to improve balance and prevent falls,” Zimmers says. “We want them to have a strong core and to be aware of things that can affect safe ambulation. Our goal is to empower our residents to live their best life as safely as possible.”

 

Twin Lakes Senior Living Community is located at 9840 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242. For more information, visit www.lec.org/twin-lakes/.