Health Services, Partners

Vestibular System and aging

Bourassa & Associates Rehabilitation Centre

What is the Vestibular System? How does that relate to Balance? And what happens to it with age?

By Leah White B.Kin., M.P.T., C.A.F.C.I.

VestibularSystem
Wikipedia: Thomas.haslwanterderivative work: Ortisa (talk) – VestibularSystem.gif, CC BY-SA 3.0

Q: What is the vestibular system? How does that relate to balance? And what happens to it with age?

A: The vestibular system comprises our peripheral vestibular apparatus and our central nervous system. The peripheral vestibular apparatus includes the inner ear and the associated nerve (the vestibulocochlear nerve) that connects it to the brain. The inner ear organ provides information about acceleration (e.g., taking off in an airplane) and rotational speed (e.g., bending, rolling over, looking up at the sky) of our body in space. The central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) takes this information and combines it with signals from various sensory organs in our body including our eyes, and our muscle and joint receptors, particularly in our feet and neck, to create stable balance and vision. In short, the three most important components of balance are our visual system (eyes), our vestibular system, and our proprioceptive system (joints and muscles). Problems with balance can produce symptoms like dizziness, vertigo, nausea, blurred vision, and unstable gait, among others.

As we age, structures degenerate in all aspects of our body at varying rates. We can also succumb to various disease processes that cause decreased function in the affected organ. Changes in muscle and joint flexibility can affect the ability of the receptors to send appropriate signals to the brain about joint position in space and also limit our ability to respond to those changes and maintain our balance. For example, the majority of people will begin to experience decreased range of motion and strength in the ankle joint as they age. This lack of mobility limits the body’s ability to accommodate to perturbations in our balance and makes us prone the falling.

Disease processes like glaucoma or macular degeneration can impact the visual input that our brain relies on to determine our body position relative to the horizon. As a result, we are forced to rely on the other two major components of balance listed above; our inner ear and our joint receptors. This may require us to use a gait aid like a cane for extra tactile feedback with the ground which creates more proprioceptive input  for our balance system to rely on. Or, we may walk slower, take shorter steps and not lift our feet as high which can again make us prone to falling, especially if we have to rush unexpectedly to the washroom or to answer the phone or doorbell.

Alternatively, tiny particles can become dislodged in the inner ear and cause our peripheral vestibular apparatus to lose its ability to determine which way is up and makes us feel as though the world is spinning. This dizziness can be nauseating and debilitating or it can be a mild annoyance. If you believe you may be experiencing any of the above, or simply believe you have poor balance, contact a physical therapist  in your area that has specific training in vestibular and balance dysfunction. They can help determine why you may be dizziness and help devise a treatment plan to assist with your problem.

 

Caregiving, Health Services, Partners, Technology

Virtual Reality – A real option for pain management

by Susan Tupper, PT, PhD, Strategy Consultant, Pain Quality Improvement, Saskatchewan Health Authority

The idea of being transported to another reality, where you can see, hear, and touch a virtual world as if it were real has been the topic of science fiction since the short story Pygmalion’s Spectacles was penned by Stanley Weinbaum in 1935. Since the mid-1960s, the technology of interactive videos has grown to include flight simulators, video games, exposure treatment for phobias, medical education, and pain management. You may be wondering how virtual reality can affect pain. What can a video do to change arthritis or a disc bulge? The answer to that question lies in knowing how pain works.

Most people think that pain and tissue damage, such as arthritis, are perfectly intertwined. More tissue damage will lead to more pain and vice versa. Fortunately, it’s not that simple. Information about danger or damage to our tissues travels along specialized nerves to the spinal cord and eventually to approximately 20 different areas of the brain that work together to create the experience of pain. We’ve learned a lot about pain over the past 40 years and now know that the signals coming from the tissues are modified at the spinal cord and brain to either increase the signal or completely block it. This is very useful to help us respond appropriately to our environment. For example, if you’re running down the road and sprain your ankle, it’s important to be able to feel pain so you can take care of your ankle until it feels better. However, if there’s a truck speeding toward you, it’s more important to NOT feel pain and get off the road. Once you’re safely out of harm’s way, the ankle pain will slowly appear. Though the tissue signals play a role, the brain determines whether or not we feel pain. The good news is that we can manipulate the brain to change pain. This is where virtual reality comes in.

Our research team is exploring how virtual reality can be used to help people with dementia manage pain. We also want to use virtual reality to train family care providers to recognize pain and better manage pain in themselves and their loved ones.

We are currently recruiting family caregivers for 30-60 minute interviews. We are particularly interested in hearing from male caregivers, those living in rural communities, or those of non-European heritage. The interview can be held on the phone or in a location that’s convenient to you. For more information on how to participate, please contact Dr. Susan Tupper (study lead investigator) at susan.tupper@saskhealthauthority.ca or 306-655-1041, or Kirstie Gibson (research assistant) at kig579@mail.usask.ca or 306-202-6330.

Our team includes researchers from the Saskatchewan Health Authority, University of Saskatchewan College of Nursing, St. Thomas More College Department of Psychology, and Luxsonic Technologies Inc.. We received funding from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) and the Center for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) and the Eunice Bilokreli Research Fund  through the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine to support this work. We appreciate the support that SCOA and the Alzheimer’s Society of Saskatchewan have provided as study collaborators.

age-friendly, Events, Health Services, Research

Staying Strong, Balanced and Fast: Fall Prevention

KT poster Fall Prevention Sept 13 2019

Agenda:

1:00 Welcome and Opening Remarks – Dr. Joel Lanovaz, College of Kinesiology and Dr. Cathy Arnold, School of Rehabilitation Science, University of Saskatchewan

1:10 Importance of Research Improving Capacity to Prevent Fall-Related Injury – Cathy Arnold

1:20 Video: A Successful Collaboration and Emergence of FAST (Cathy Arnold and Melanie Weimer)

1:30 Results of first FAST pilot study – Cathy Arnold

1:40 How to measure Fall Arrest Capacity? Joel Lanovaz

Video: College of Kinesiology Labs, Developing Novel Measures (Joel Lanovaz, Jon Farthing, Glennis and Terry Stirling, Danelle Banman, Justin Pfifko)

1:50 FAST 1 and FAST 2 Study Designs and Results – Cathy Arnold and Joel Lanovaz

Video: What do these results mean for fall prevention? (Jenny Basran)

2:10 Introduction of FAST team members

2:20 Acknowledgement of student trainees and their work (Hayley Legg, Danelle Banman, Justin Pfifko, and others not here today)

2:30 REFRESHMENT BREAK and poster viewing

2:50 Welcome and words from collaborators:

June Gawdun, Executive Director, Saskatoon Council on Aging

Kimberly Willison, Lead for Forever in Motion

Cheryl Lehne, Lead for Staying on Your Feet

3:00 Final Words from Participants and PI

Video: (Janet Barnes, Cathy Arnold, Terry and Glennis Stirling, Neil Collins)

3:10 Break out session.. What’s next – Hearing from you (Café style – choose 2)

Questions to consider:

After hearing what you heard today, what would you like to see related to reducing fall-related injuries for older adults?

· Researchers to examine next?

· Health care system to do?

· Community organizations/groups/public to do?

· What would you do differently?

3:50 De-briefing, Closing remarks Cathy Arnold

age-friendly, Events, Health Services, Services

Spotlight on Seniors News

Thank you to all who made this show possible!

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  • Thank you to our entertainers and guests: Young at Heart, Spectacle, Free Flow Dance Theatre, Bridge City Cloggers, Slightly Off-Centre Jam Band, Forever … in motion, MC Dale Yellowlees.
  • Thanks to all exhibitors and volunteers ~ your participation helped us make a wonderful 20th Anniversary show!
  • Thank you to His Worship Charlie Clark, Mayor of Saskatoon
  • Thank you to the Honourable Warren Kaeding, Minister Responsible for Seniors

Date: October 1, 2019 
Location: Grand Salon, TCU Place – 35 22nd  Street East, Saskatoon

 

Health Services, Important Notices, Partners, Research

Pain Knowledge Needs of Family Caregivers and Persons with Dementia

The Saskatoon Council on Aging [SCOA] is pleased to collaborate with Dr. Susan Tupper on the research project “Pain Knowledge Needs of Family Caregivers and Persons with Dementia: Role of Virtual Reality as a Training Modality”. As a leading organization in the province dedicated to supporting positive aging through programs and services that enhance health, dignity, and independence for older adults, SCOA recognizes the importance of this research project for our community members.

Dr. Tupper and the Pain Dementia Virtual Reality Research Team have proposed to create an innovative training program on pain management for family caregivers and people with cognitive impairments related to dementia. Incorporating virtual reality videos into the training materials is an exciting new way to teach family members and people with dementia about pain. The training materials will be developed based on family member input, and their perspectives on the new virtual reality video will help shape the training program in ways that truly support older adults in Saskatchewan. This education will help our families to better cope with pain and prevent suffering and the many negative consequences of living with pain.

In the news: 

CBC Saskatoon May 20, 2019: Pain researcher uses VR to help caregivers deal with dementia patients’ pain. 

CBC Blue Sky May 29, 2019: Managing Acute and Chronic Pain: A panel of Saskatchewan Experts 

Saskatoon Tech Company Using  virtual reality to improve dementia care

The research is funded by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation and Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation Advancement Inc.

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Health Services, Services

Connected Care – Community Health Centre at Market Mall

Purpose: The focus of this Centre is to provide specialty care to older adults (50+) with non‐life threatening complex care needs.

Complex care includes:

  • Changes in mobility or changes in memory
  • Increasing challenges in managing day-to-day activities
  • Increased difficulty coping with life’s events
  • Increasing unstable chronic health conditions e.g. COPD

This specialty care is designed to be a form of support that bridges the transition from the hospital to home and to support patients dealing with one or a combination of the following issues: multiple chronic conditions; mental health issues; medication‐related problems; and social vulnerability.

Accessing services:

The Community Health Centre is not a family physician clinic or walk‐in clinic. To access services, please contact your family physician  for a referral. 
Note: A portion of daily appointments are reserved for anyone requiring rapid access to services based on their complex care needs.

Services include:

  • In‐depth medical assessments
  • Chronic disease management and treatment
  • Physiotherapy and occupational therapy
  • Support from Community Mental Health Nurses (onsite) and social worker home visits
  • Help navigating the health and social services systems
  • Home Care (mobile)
  • Community paramedicine (mobile)

Clinics – offered on a rotating basis
Dental screening and referral
Home Care (mobile)
Stroke care follow-up (upon referral)

Community Health Centre at Market Mall Unit #55, Market Mall
2325 Preston Avenue South
Saskatoon, SK S7J 2G2
Located in mall, near parkade stairwell and elevator

Phone: 306‐844‐4050
Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Daily, including statutory holidays CHCMarketMall@saskhealthauthority.ca

Download Connected Care ‐ Community Health Centre at Market Mall Fact Sheet produced by the Saskatchewan Health Authority

age-friendly, Classes, Fitness and dance, Health Services

Winter Fitness Opportunities

SCOA Globe Walk 2019: STAY FIT THIS WINTER

If you are 50+ years – challenge yourself and motivate others to take part in a fun winter fitness program – with a bonus of great social activities. You’ll stay active and work with your team to achieve an awesome  new Globe Walk goal.   Read more 

Saskatchewan Seniors Fitness Association Activities

Discover the many activities SSFA  provides for members in order to assist them in achieving active lifestyles as well as making new friends through socializing with fellow members. It is our goal to improve the well-being of seniors by planning and organizing physical, cultural, social and intellectual activities. Read more ….

Bridge City Senioraction

A 55 plus co-ed seniors exercise club,  whose members are interested in improving their quality of life through a program of physical fitness.
Annual membership $20 per year, drop in fee $2.00 per session.
Classes are held Tuesdays and Thursdays, Saskatoon Field House 9:30 am to 10:30 am.
All new members welcome. Phone Sheila 306-931-8053 or Kathy 306-244-0587 for more information.

Forever … in motion

Forever … in motion is a physical activity program for Older Adults 50+ in the community. Peer leaders teach safe exercises that include a warm-up, cardio, strength, balance and flexibility exercises.  Most classes are free or very low cost.  Participating in physical activity can reduce your risk of having a fall by 40 percent!  For more information or to find out about a Forever…in motion group near you contact us at 306-844-4080.

Fit Over 50 Program, City of Saskatoon : A Guide To Physical Activity For People 50+

  • Drop-in Fitness Programs
  • Registered Programs
  • Smart Start Beginner Fitness
  • Spotlight on Fitness: The First Step ProgramTM