BCC Holds 'Stay Active and Independent for Life' Classes
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College's Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program recently led a four-month program called Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL).
The free program, designed for senior citizens interested in increasing mobility, was held twice a week from Jan 10 through May 4.
"Research indicates that falls suffered by persons over age 65 can often be reduced or eliminated by participation in community programs that focus on identifying risk factors, learning how falls can be prevented and conducting strengthening, balance and aerobic exercise," said PTA Program Coordinator Michele Darroch, who initiated the program at BCC with the help of PTA Lab and Office Assistant Anthony Monteleone.
SAIL, a national program that partners with educational institutions, community centers and health care facilities, is a strength, balance and fitness program for adults 65 and older. The curriculum of activities in the SAIL program can help improve strength and balance, if done regularly. Certified SAIL instructors complete assessments before, during and after the sessions.
The idea to create a SAIL program at BCC began when Springfield College asked BCC to help support their Community Living Grant, which focuses on empowering seniors in Western Massachusetts communities to help reduce falls and fall risks. BCC took the opportunity, directly involving the PTA program in the process. First- and second-year PTA students assisted with motor and balance assessments in the 75-minute classes, and second-year students taught sections of the class and created a video for the participants to use when the class was over. All students participated in the classes and discussed what they observed in PTA classes and labs.
"This program appears to provide significant opportunities for both community members and students," Darroch said. "Post-session outcomes showed that all participants noticed better posture and increased strength, balance and coordination."
About the Physical Therapist Assistant Program
A Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) provides a unique form of medical treatment in which science and art become one and patients are given individualized care. The program is rooted in scientific knowledge and theory, but it is the personal interactions with patients, family members and other health care providers that require creativity and flexibility on the therapist's part.
PTAs work in diverse settings including hospitals, private PT practices, community health agencies, schools, pediatric facilities, nursing homes, industrial or corporate health facilities and rehabilitation centers. BCC enrolls about 20 PTA students per semester; program graduates are eligible to take the national examination to become licensed PTAs. The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at BCC is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).