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Aspirus, UW awarded $50,000 research grant to pilot program for seniors

Oct 17, 2012

WAUSAU, Wis. – Aspirus VNA Home Health, in partnership with the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Family Medicine, Geriatrics Division, has been awarded a research grant totaling $50,000.

Aspirus VNA will receive $18,040 of those funds to conduct research on a specialized in-home exercise and flexibility program for seniors. Occupational and physical therapists from Aspirus VNA will help seniors implement the Lifestyle and Functional Exercise program (LiFE) into their daily activities and document how effectively the program helps reduce falls, improve function and increase adherence to a therapeutic exercise regimen.

“Falls are a leading cause of hospitalization and disability among seniors, but a regular exercise program with activities specifically geared toward seniors can improve flexibility and function and decrease the risk for falls,” said Julie Luks, M.D., medical director for Aspirus Senior Health.

This grant is funded through the University of Wisconsin Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health’s Wisconsin Partnership Program. It allows Aspirus VNA and the University of Wisconsin to be the first in the country to pilot the LiFE program, which was developed in Australia. In addition to researching the program’s impact on patients, the research partners also will be studying the most effective way to adopt, implement and maintain the program.

“In the past, patients have been asked to avoid daily activities that challenge balance in fear that they could lead to falls or other types of injuries,” Dr. Luks, said. “The LiFE program represents a shift in thinking about rehabilitation therapy because it encourages them to safely incorporate balance and strength exercises into daily activities.”