Tai Chi for Beginners Team Earns Distinguished Team-Teaching Award

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GREENVILLE—Dr. Scammahorn, FCS Educator, Darke County; Ken Stewart, FCS Educator, Monroe County; Lorrissa Dunfee, FCS Educator, Belmont County (Standing); Rae Baker, Healthy Relationships State Specialist and Misty Harmon, FCS Educator, Pike County (seated) were honored with the Distinguished Team-Teaching Award on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, at the Ohio State University Extension Annual Conference. The team teaching award, presented on behalf of the Ohio Alpha Eta Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi, is designed to recognize outstanding efforts of Extension staff teams for responding to and incorporating a specific educational program one or more critical issues. The Tai Chi for Beginners team offered three free online programs in 2022 to help reduce the number of injury related falls in older adults.

Millions of older adults (65 and older) fall each year. In fact, more than one in four older people fall each year, less than half tell their doctor. One fall doubles the chances of falling again. One in five falls results in serious injury like broken bones or head injury. 3 million older people are treated each year in the emergency room for fall injuries with over 800,000 patients requiring hospitalization. 300,000 older people are hospitalized each year for hip fracture and more than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. The most common cause of traumatic brain injury is falls. The total for medical costs for falls in 2015 was over $50 billion with Medicare and Medicaid covering 75% of the cost.

In Ohio, 1/3 older persons fall each year with falls being the leading cause of injury for Ohioans 65 and older. In 2019, older Ohioans had 75,091 visits to the emergency room, 18,856 hospitalizations, and 1,490 deaths due to falls. 60% of fatal traumatic brain injuries in older Ohioans resulted from falls. The rate of falls from 2010 to 2019 increased by 55%. The rate of fall related deaths in older Ohioans in 2019 was 75.7 falls per 100,000 residents. Fall risk increases with age. Ohioans aged 85 and older had the highest fall related deaths each year. 57% of fall-related deaths in Ohioans occurred in the home and 29% occurred in a residential institution.

Access to medical and/or exercise facilities is limited in rural American and rural Ohio. Some of the risk factors for falls include lower body weakness, lack of physical activity, chronic health conditions, home hazards, reduced vision, disability, poor nutrition, use of multiple medications, weather and outdoor conditions, and fear of falling. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) recognizes falls as a major health threat to older Ohioans and they have provided free trainings for programs that have demonstrated positive outcomes in fall prevention or reduction. Tai Chi is one of these programs.

If you would like to learn more about the February 2023 online Tai Chi for Beginners class, please call the Ohio State University Extension, Darke County office at 937-548-5215, or email Dr. Scammahorn at Scammahorn.5@osu.edu.