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School of Health Sciences receives $147,000 grant to launch fall prevention program

Students walk near the clock tower on WSSU's campus. (WSSU file, September 2017)

Winston-Salem State University’s School of Health Sciences (SOHS) has received a three-year, $147,000 federal grant that will create an educational and training program that aims to reduce the risk of falling and safeguard the independence of older adults.

“Falls can significantly impact the health of older residents, with millions of older adults treated in emergency departments each year for falls injuries,” said Dr. Sara Migliarese, associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at WSSU and program director (PI) for the grant. “Research has shown that falls and fall risks can be reduced through evidence-based community programs.”

Over the next three years, the SOHS aims to reach 400 older adults and adults with disabilities and partner with community agencies in seven Piedmont counties to launch the evidence-based program. The grant is through the Administration for Community Living (ACL)/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The program will be introduced at fall screening events at four YMCA of Northwest North Carolina locations starting on Aug. 7:

  • Stokes Family YMCA (King): 9 a.m.-noon on Aug. 7
  • Wilkes Family YMCA (Wilkesboro): 9 a.m.-noon on Aug. 21
  • Davie Family YMCA (Mocksville): 9 a.m.-noon on Aug. 28
  • Yadkin Family YMCA (Yadkinville): 9 a.m.-noon on Sept. 4
Sara Migliarese

The screenings are free and open to the public. Participants will be screened by WSSU faculty for fall risk using questionnaires and quick balance tests and will receive recommendations on how to decrease their risks.

Additional locations will be announced this fall.

Through the grant, three fall intervention programs will be introduced: Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance; A Matter of Balance; and the Otago Exercise Program. SOHS faculty will study which of the programs is most effective in decreasing fall risk and preventing future falls in older residents of Northwest North Carolina.

Key partners on the grant include:

  • Community Care Center of Forsyth County
  • High County Area Agency on Aging
  • Kindred at Home
  • North Carolina Alliance of YMCA’s
  • North Carolina Center for Health & Wellness at the University of North Carolina at Asheville
  • North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council
  • Senior Services Inc.
  • YMCA of Northwest North Carolina

Co-PIs on the grant are: Dr. Nancy Smith, Dr. Christina Criminger and Dr. LaVerne Garner from the Department of Physical Therapy; Dr. Megan Edwards Collins and Dr. Cynthia Bell from the Department of Occupational Therapy; and Karen Bartoletti from the Northwest YMCA.

For more information on the evidence-based fall prevention program, please contact or call Sara Miglarese at 336-750-8968. 

About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment.

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