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A win-win combination for falls prevention in Andover! Steady on the feet, strong in mind and body

Falling is often thought of as an inevitable part of ageing however, that is not the case and Valley Leisure’s I Can Therapy Centre team are leading the way to help local people improve their strength and balance and reduce their risk of falls.

“I feel more confident and I’m stronger” is how people are feeling after taking part in I Can Therapy’s ‘Steady and Strong’ course of strength and balance exercise classes.

Re-established in September 2021 after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions; and with the notion of living with coronavirus in society; local charity Valley Leisure and their I Can Therapy Centre team prioritised restarting the community based strength and balance classes to help adults in Andover to live independently for longer and avoid falls.

Reducing falls is a key national priority. One in three people aged over 65 years and half of those aged 80 years and over fall at least once per year. A fall can result in a hip fracture, a serious and life threatening complication of a fall.

On average there are over 1500 emergency admissions for hip fractures a year costing the NHS Health and Social Care system around £1bn. Half of those people with hip fracture never regain their former mobility and one in five people die within 3 months of a hip fracture.

Whilst many people are not seriously injured following a fall, falling can have a profound and negative impact upon a person’s confidence and heightens a fear of falling in the future. A survey commissioned by Age UK has found that millions of older people are worried about falling over, with 4.3 million (36%) saying it topped their list of concerns (2021).

The good news is that falls are preventable and are not an inevitable part of ageing. By managing the many factors that increase the likelihood for falling, the risk is reduced, the biggest risk being a lack of exercise.

Exercise, specifically focused exercise to improve strength and balance, is at the top of the list when it comes to reducing the risk of falls as well as reducing the fear of falling and increasing confidence in maintaining balance in everyday life.

Endorsed by Hampshire County Council’s Public Health and Adult Services departments, Steady and Strong is a County wide, evidence based exercise initiative to tackle the high incidence of falls across the county.

Jacob Webb, I Can Therapy Centre’s Exercise Therapist recently gained the gold standard qualification in falls prevention endorsed by the NHS, Postural Stability Instructor for Falls Prevention. Funded locally by Test Valley Borough Council’s Andover Skills Training Fund, the training enables Jacob to deliver the evidence based FaME (Falls Management Exercise) programme.

The FaME approach comprises balance specific exercises and targeted training to improve dynamic balance, strength, bone density, endurance, flexibility, gait and functional skills training to improve ‘righting’ or ‘correcting’ skills to avoid a fall and techniques to help people get up from the floor following a fall.

Jacob said “On returning to exercise after the lockdowns, we’ve noticed that people are less steady on their feet and our customers have said their health has deteriorated. We’ve prioritised re-establishing Steady and Strong classes to help people increase their strength, improve their balance and feel more confident in their everyday life. By completing a one hour Steady and Strong exercise class each week for 36 weeks, we can help reduce people’s risk of falling. In time, the more people we get steady on their feet and less fearful of falling, the more we will help the local NHS. It’s a win, win!”

Valley Leisure’s I Can Therapy Centre team deliver two Steady and Strong group exercise classes per week at St Andrew’s Methodist Church, Weyhill Road. Each class lasts one hour and includes tailored exercise to warm-up, mobilise joints, strengthen muscles, improve balance, increase flexibility, increase coordination of movement and cool down.

Classes are delivered on Wednesdays as a course of 6 sessions, costing £36 per course; and are designed to help people improve strength and balance; enabling people to live independently for longer and avoid falls.

For more information or to book a place on the next Steady and Strong exercise courses starting in February, contact I Can Therapy Centre on 01264 568241, email info@icantherapycentre.co.uk or visit www.icantherapycentre.co.uk.

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