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Senso balance machine helping to reduce fall risk in participants

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The Senso balance machine aims to reduce fall risk and improve cognition while progressing clients through a series of games.

The Camarillo Health Care District is offering no-cost, one-on-one training on the Senso balance machine. The twice-a-week, eight-week program aims to reduce fall risk and improve cognition while progressing participants through a series of games that get more complex and challenging as people move through the program. Games are focused on various cognitive and physical skills, from natural cognitive tasks that may be second nature to some people and a challenge to others with some sort of cognitive impairment.

“As we get older, our executive function slows. Because of that, people’s response is not as quick, and we are more prone to falls. Also, we know from studies the more afraid you are of falling, the more likely you are to fall. So, the idea of the Senso balance machine is to use your executive function at the same time as you are improving your motor control,” said Casey Kramer, a health promotion coach and one of five trained facilitators. “Basically, it’s the dual tasking of working on your fall reduction and working on your cognition.

A total of 37.5 percent of the District’s participants have reported a decrease of fear in falling after the program, Kramer said. And clients are seeing gains in reaction time. The program is fully adaptable for an individual based on their cognitive or physical level. A coach can manipulate duration and frequency of the tasks.

  • A total 69 percent agree or strongly agree they now feel more confident when walking and navigating spaces.
  • 37.5 percent report a decrease of fear in falling after participating in the program.
  • 75 percent agree or strongly agree their ability to understand and process directions has improved.
  • 80 percent feel more confident increasing their activity.
  • 63 percent feel more satisfied with their life.
  • 56 percent would recommend the program to a friend or relative.
  • Overall satisfaction with the quality of program stands at 44 percent “very satisfied” and 56 percent “satisfied.”

The Senso also tracks the participant’s performance and adjusts each game to an appropriate challenge level. The games can be personalized. For instance, the facilitator can adjust the program if the participant has weakness in one leg, so the weakness can be targeted to decrease any discrepancy in strength between the two.

The average age of participants was 80 between January and March 2022. According to the CDC, falls are common among Americans 65 and older. One out of four older adults will fall each year in the United States, making falls a public health concern, particularly among the aging population. Each year, about 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for a fall injury.

Older adults — and especially those at risk of falling — have an impaired ability to start and execute quick steps, particularly in situations where attention is divided. One example is getting things out of the refrigerator and then the doorbell rings, and you turn quickly, stumble and fall. Studies show that if you combine brain training and physical training (dual tasking), it improves performance in both cognitive function and step execution, and that reduces the rate of falls. Keeping track of reaction time and errors and clients seeing gains in reaction time.

“Overall, we are seeing a decrease in reaction time and that’s good. In a situation where someone is feeling off balance they are able to respond quicker and hopefully prevent a fall.”

To sign up for the program, call 805-388-1952, ext. 100.

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