Awareness Through Movement®
With May Nassar GCFP & Katarina Halm GCFP
Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioners
Table of Contents for ‘Master Balance for Elder Citizens’
by Annie Cosgrove and Dr Richard Yin (Perth 1999)
Awareness Through Movement Lessons
April to July 1999 Perth Western Australia
with Richard Yin and Annie Cosgrove
This Balance Master series is inspired by a transcript from classes given by Feldenkrais® Practitioners Richard Yin and Annie Cosgrove for a group of twenty elder women, participating in an Aged Care Study on Falls Prevention in the Autumn of 1999.
Richard Yin and Annie Cosgrove write regarding the lessons:
They are for many reasons a unique collection, partly because of the study’s parameters and partly because of the characteristics of the women concerned.
Falls in the elderly are a major public health concern affecting many people. For this study alone 4-500 respondents phoned in as a result of a single brief media recruitment campaign. Studies suggest that one third to one half of people over the age of 65 will fall each year. Apart from sustaining physical injuries, falls often lead to decreased confidence, a worsening in quality of life and a loss of independence.
The participants in this study were all independent, community living individuals over the age of 65 (up to 85). Many had fallen previously, some sustaining fractures of the wrist or ribs. None however was using a walking aid. They were randomly assigned to “no treatment”, Tai Chi or Feldenkrais classes twice a week for 16 weeks. Prior to the commencement of classes, several participants expressed concern at getting to the floor.
Results of the clinical assessment showed that the Feldenkrais group had statistically significant improvements in functional activity indices and functional balance testing. For a subgroup of women most fearful of falling, there was a significant decline in their fears.
These transcripts are presented for those in the Feldenkrais community who are interested in or are already working with the elderly. Trying to teach these classes made us acutely aware of the lack of relevant or suitable material for this age group.
Annie Cosgrove came to Feldenkrais from a background in Physiotherapy. She has been a senior orthopaedic physiotherapist and senior neurosurgical physiotherapist up to her graduation as a Feldenkrais practitioner in 1993. Since then she has maintained a busy private practice, working with the West Australian symphony orchestra along with seniors and members of the general public.
Dr Richard Yin combines his training as a general medical practitioner, with postgraduate physiotherapy qualifications in manipulative therapy, and qualifications in acupuncture and physical medicine. He graduated as a Feldenkrais practitioner in 1993 and runs both general and physical medical practices.
Introduction to Participants
from ‘Master Balance for Elder Citizens’
by Annie Cosgrove and Dr Richard Yin (Perth 1999)
These lessons are designed specifically around balance and coordination with a view to preventing falls. Balance is a funny thing. Most of you are sitting here balancing and sitting, but you are not really aware that doing it. If you have had kids and you can remember, at around 4 to 6 months they actually lean to sit and balance themselves in sitting, and prior to that they cannot do it. Even at around that age they still actually fall in sitting. So there is something you are doing now that is called balancing, and yet you are not actually aware that that is what you are doing. And kids do not really learn to stand until they are about 12 months, and even then they fall. And yet much of the time we stand. We are not really aware that in standing we are balancing.
So if you reflect on your day, all the time you are actually asked to balance whether you are sitting or standing, whether you are coming up from sitting to standing, whether you are walking, even when you are lying down and you have to turn from one side to the next, there is a certain point in the turning where you actually have to balance on your thigh before you come from your back to your front or your front to your back. And if you see little babies, they just topple over and roll, while all of you can actually control the role from the front to the back or the back to the front.
So there are really very few times, apart from when you are lying flat on your back or lying on your side and perfectly still, that you are not in balance. And I say that as a prelude to the fact that the lesson that we will be doing around balance will be in many different positions. We will be starting off primarily in sitting, partly because it is the safest and then progressing in a variety of ways.
The other thing about learning to balance and being coordinated is that when you learn to balance in one area you actually learn to balance in another area. I have a three year old who is learning to hop. So you see him trying to hop on one leg, and at the same time he is learning to climb. And his climbing is probably getting better and his hopping. And you can see some of the coordination skill that he is learning in his climbing. He is actually learning then how to balance better when he is hopping. And how you learn to hop actually helps him to balance better when he is climbing.
So even though we will begin in sitting, the idea is that what you learn will also carry forward into other areas of your life in balancing.