DuBOIS, Pa. — Penn State DuBois Occupational Therapy Assistant students Fiona Riss, Emily Busija and Maddie Barsh recently were on a mission to help empower and educate the community at Christ the King Manor DuBois, Pennsylvania. The OTA Fall Prevention and Wellness Program, a three-part series, was the students' vessel for making a difference in the lives of the residents.
The program, designed to promote health and reduce the risk of falls, was a collaborative effort between the Penn State DuBois Occupational Therapy Assistant program and the Christ the King community. Under the guidance of Program Director and Associate Teaching Professor LuAnn Delbrugge, the students aimed to impart valuable knowledge to the residents of the apartments and cottages at Christ the King Manor.
On a brisk October day, the second segment of the series commenced. The atmosphere in the room buzzed with anticipation as the students delved into the critical topics of fall prevention, wellness and senior health.
It's so nice they [the students] come and do this for us. They [the residents] absolutely love it. They talk about it over meals.
—Tina Dickey , community center director, Christ the King Manor
Tina Dickey, the community center director, beamed as she watched the students in action. "It's so nice they come and do this for us. They absolutely love it. They talk about it over meals," she said, highlighting the significant impact of the program on the residents' lives.
Delbrugge began by discussing ways to stay healthy and ways to prevent falls. She emphasized the importance of maintaining a wide base of support, using chairs, sinks or counters to stabilize during exercises, and incorporating balance and upper body strength exercises into daily routines. One resident even shared her unique method of using pennies as makeshift weights, demonstrating the resourcefulness and determination within the community.
In the second part of the session, the focus shifted to vision and foot care. Barsh shared valuable insights about maintaining healthy vision and discussed the significance of keeping regular eye appointments. She emphasized the importance of maintaining proper lighting and residents chimed in about their use of motion and voice-activated lights. Foot care took center stage as residents learned about the importance of wearing appropriate footwear and using foot exercises to improve balance.
This program is really important to educate all of the residents here so they can learn about falls and how to prevent it and overall, how to have a better and successful life.
—Maddie Barsh , second year occupational therapy assistant student
Barsh enjoyed presenting and engaging with the residents in this fun and interactive session. “This program is really important to educate all of the residents here so they can learn about falls and how to prevent it and overall, how to have a better and successful life,” said Barsh.
Throughout the program, Delbrugge also stressed the importance of consulting with a doctor before beginning any exercise program. When asked about the benefits of this series, Delbrugge explained that falls in the elderly can be very common and detrimental.
“We present information on safety in the home and community, staying active and exercising, balance, and give tips on how to modify how to do things to prevent falls based on ability. This program benefits not only the residents, but the students. Part of their job is going to be educating, and that’s what they’re doing during this program, educating and interacting with the community.”
As the session concluded, laughter filled the room as Delbrugge asked if anyone had ever experienced stress. After receiving a resounding yes, she announced the upcoming topic for the third and final segment: stress management.
In the heart of Christ the King Manor, the students' dedication to educating and empowering the community shone brightly, said Delbrugge, exemplifying the symbiotic relationship between learning and teaching, and the profound impact it can have on the lives of those they touch.