The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Avoiding deadly falls

California Lutheran University students seek ways to help the elderly

Two students at California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, spent last summer researching ways to help people 65 and older prevent falls. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths for seniors, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Brian Stethem/California Lutheran University<BR><BR>Michael
Michael Calkins, a student at California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, watches Gerald Swanson, a retired ELCA pastor, use latex exercise bands to build strength in his legs and hips. Calkins and another student, Tiffany Linville, designed the simple training program to keep seniors from falling.

Seniors Tiffany Linville and Michael Calkins worked full time with Michele LeBlanc, assistant professor of exercise science and sports medicine, to develop a simple 20- to 30-minute exercise program older adults could do on their own to improve their strength and balance—avoiding dangerous falls.

Their research was funded with $8,000 from Swenson Summer Fellowship grants. The two were among 11 students who received the summer fellowships, which allow undergraduates to carry out scientific research.

Linville and Calkins researched falls, developed a proposal for a study, found study participants and helped the older adults train weekly.

Then they tested about 40 older adults, mostly 80-somethings. Half were in a control group, and the other half underwent the students’ six-week personalized training program through twice-a-week home visits.

The two students used the university’s new human performance lab to test the older adults.

Special features of the lab are a force plate that Linville and Calkins used to record postural sway and an isokinetic machine they used to measure leg strength.


James McCausland

James McCausland

Posted at 4:31 pm (U.S. Eastern) 11/20/2007

How can I get a copy of the exercise program?

Elizabeth Hunter

Elizabeth Hunter

Posted at 3:00 am (U.S. Eastern) 11/21/2007

Thanks for asking, James! For more information about the exercise program, please contact California Lutheran University media relations coordinator Karin Grennan (805-493-3512; kgrennan@callutheran.edu) or Michele LeBlanc, associate professor of exercise science (805-493-3276; mleblanc@callutheran.edu).

Michele LeBlanc may be the best contact, but it's always best to have options in case she's on vacation or sabbatical, for example!

Thanks for asking!

Linda Norberg

Linda Norberg

Posted at 7:06 pm (U.S. Eastern) 1/30/2008

Way to go, Michael!  Talked wilth your mom last night at a BSD High School getting Juniors ready for college  meeting. She told us about your work and that you brought copies of this magazine home at Christmas.  We are very proud of you.  Keep up the great work!

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