Volunteers build UNC obstacle course to help prevent falls
Posted November 12, 2013
Chapel Hill, N.C. — For many elderly people, a simple fall can lead to complications, which can become life-threatening. That's why physical therapy often focuses on helping patients avoid falls.
In Chapel Hill, volunteers have built an outdoor course to help those patients regain their balance. Fifty volunteers from 14 different Lowe’s Home Improvement stores devoted three days to building the special outdoor challenge course at the UNC Healthcare Rehabilitation Center.
Occupational therapist Kevin Corbin says patients will be able to practice on every surface imaginable, including rubber mulch, cobblestones, gravel and sand.
“They'll be on a wooden boardwalk. It's wide enough so that a therapist can safely walk with a patient as well,” Corbin said.
Uneven or unfamiliar surfaces can sometimes cause patients to fall. That’s the case for Gail Sanders, 73, who says benign tremors affect her balance.
“I have difficulties sometimes walking on different surfaces, turning my ankle,” she said.
Falls are a major problem for many people. They can lead to broken bones, head trauma and a downward spiral of health complications.
“The problem with the fall is not the fall itself, but the consequences of a fall,” said Dr. Michael Lee, with UNC Rehabilitative Medicine.
The UNC Healthcare Rehabilitation Center is in the old Borders Bookstore at the corner of Fordham Boulevard and Sage Road.