As you may have noticed by the other research study descriptions in this section, improving walking and promoting independence are important to University of Pittsburgh researchers. Some researchers, like Jennifer Brach, PhD, PT, associate professor of physical therapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, are taking a community-based approach in developing new programs to improve walking in older adults.

The project “On the Move”, funded by the University of Pittsburgh Aging Institute, was developed by physical therapists with valuable input from older adults within the community. Researchers held several focus groups to obtain feedback from older adults and then modified the program accordingly.

Because walking is key to maintaining independence, this program focuses on the timing and coordination of stepping and walking and is set to follow the beat of music popular with the older adults.

Unlike other programs that are mainly conducted in a sitting position, “On the Move” is unique because it is conducted mainly from standing or walking positions. Dr. Brach and colleagues are currently testing this program at various UPMC Independent Living Facilities.

Participants have been thrilled with the program. One older adult commented that as a result of the exercise program, she “doesn’t walk like an old lady anymore.” Dr. Brach is eager to expand this project to include new partners throughout the community, including senior high rises and community centers.

For more information, please contact Lisa Guizzetti, Community PARTners project coordinator at 1-866-422-1575.

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