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.
|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.