Thursday, March 22, 2007
Physical Therapy students offer clinic to OPC
For the past three years students from Oakland University’s physical therapy program have been participating in a balance and falls workshop at the Older Persons’ Commission in Rochester. The OPC is a community center for Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township residents 60 years old and older. Through the program, OU students are able to get hands-on experience while helping the community.
The PT 735, Health, Promotion and Wellness in Physical Therapy class does four community projects each year.
“We’ve helped a Brownie Troop earn their fitness badge, we provided a bike safety clinic for the local community, we worked with Jack’s Place for Autism on a motor development screening workshop and we did the balance and falls workshop for seniors,” said Kris Thompson, physical therapy program director and instructor.
Thompson was connected to the OPC through fellow physical therapy faculty, Sue Saliga, who has worked closely with the OPC in the past and serves as a consultant with their stroke club.
“I approached one of the program directors at the OPC about having the balance and falls workshop at the OPC and they thought it was a great idea,” Thompson said. “The PT students have also been very enthusiastic about the opportunity.”
Two of those students are Meghan Sheppard and Wynne Dawley, who participated in the class during the fall semester and were assigned to the balance and falls workshop.
Sheppard said she and other students helped to set up the different stations to help analyze the participants’ risk of falls and help them determine how they can improve their balance. She said the participants receive a score at each station and then meet with Saliga, who helps them examine the score and make lifestyle changes.
“This helps us apply all of the stuff we have been learning all along,” Sheppard said. “It’s the first time we have had the opportunity to use it on people who have real problems and ask real questions. It was good to be confronted with that and learn how to deal with it.”
The 35 workshop participants range from really fit to those not able to help themselves.
“A lot of them have not had the education we have had. We are providing members of the community with a resource for enhancing their quality of life,” Dawley said.
With the physical therapy faculty, the students make home adaptation recommendations and suggest exercises for strength and balance.
“The projects we participate in, including the balance and falls workshop, provide ‘real-life’ opportunities for students to develop and implement health promotion and wellness community projects,” Thompson said. “Students have the experience of working with community clients and providing a needed community service. The projects benefit both students and the community.”
Last fall, Oakland University and the OPC announced a formal partnership, which include monthly lectures. For more information, visit the Older Persons’ Commission Web site or call (248) 656-1403.
For more information on Oakland physical therapy program, visit the physical therapy Web site.