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Unique technique to help with balance

October 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Along with graying hair and slowing down, another common sign of aging involves issues with balance. It can be due to inactivity, but also problems with dizziness can be a result of a condition of the inner ear.The Culver City Senior Citizens Center offers a class called the Balance Challenge. Along with social interaction, coordination and circulation, the class also provides a unique technique. It focuses on an interesting body part -- the ear.

"We designed these cardiovascular exercises and balance exercises that do head turns; left to right, right to left, up and down, to kind of stabilize those inner ear crystals," said fitness expert Robert De La Riva.

Robert De La Riva and physical therapist Greg Cox created this program using vestibular protocols, or movement designed to balance the calcium carbonate crystals often displaced in the inner ear.

"Science really picked up on the vestibular stuff in the 80s and 90s and as it got into rehab we realized so many seniors had balance problems," said Cox.

Like Vertigo and dizziness. Along with the classes, Cox, who treats patients at his balance clinic, held a small study of 50 people with balance issues with promising results.

Before they took the class about one in eight students had a fall. After a year, the same study, the same people, none of them fell.

Dorothy Akiyama was immobile after neck surgery three years ago due to bone and nerve damage. But since taking the classes, she was able to walk all over Manhattan and up the stairs of the Empire State Building for her eightieth birthday.

"It's all because of this program," said Akiyama.

Fondly known as Bon Jovi, Jovy Lim also suffered from vertigo prior to attending class.

"I went to doctors. Took all this prescription medication and he said it cannot be cured," said Lim.

But she proved him wrong.

"Not only was the vertigo that was cured, but my balance and coordination has also improved," said Lim.

And balance isn't the only benefit.

"I had arthritis and lots of pain. And by doing the the bands and the exercises the arthritis has really been eliminated," said Peggy Cullinane.

The Centers for Disease Control states one in three older adults fall each year in the United States, yet these folks are proving, falling is not an inevitable part of life.

 

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