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Missing the Hand You Hold

Otago Exercise Program

New Evidence-Based Program at Insight!

Falls are NOT a normal part of aging! And most falls ARE preventable! At least 25% of older adults fall each year, and older adults with cognitive impairment or dementia are at least 2-3 times more likely to fall than their peers. Unfortunately, a fall or even a near fall, can lead to a vicious cycle:

Fear of falling → Fear of moving → Decreased activity → Increased weakness → A very REAL increased risk of falling!

We know that balance and strength training can decrease fall risk in older adults. Insight staff members have recently been trained in the Otago Exercise Program, a balance and strength training program which, if performed consistently, has been shown to decrease fall risk in older adults. The Otago program hails from the University of Otago in New Zealand and original research supported that, when administered by a physical therapist to individuals at high risk for falls, this program significantly reduced falls and fall-related injuries.

The Otago program has been adopted in the US to be administered in group settings and by other instructors (not only physical therapists). The National Council on Aging shares two key takeaways from this evidence-based program:

  • Help frail older adults gain increased balance and strength through exercise and a walking program three times a week.
  • Studies demonstrate that Otago Exercise Program (OEP) participants experience a 35 - 40% reduction in falls.

Insight is excited to bring Otago to both our Reconnections and Day Center programs. After training this fall, we started to implement the program in late 2023. We look forward to feedback from our participants on this new program!

If you have concerns about falling for yourself or someone you love, the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has a robust Fall Prevention Resource Page for Older Adults, replete with many brochures for personal fall risk assessment, home safety check lists, and falls prevention tips which you can find linked below.


Dr. Julie D. Ries, PT, has extensive physical therapy clinical experience in acute care, home care, and neurological rehabilitation. She is an Associate Professor at Marymount University in Arlington, VA and continues to be active in regular clinical practice.






"I like that IMCC focuses on dementia-related problems and provides a focal point for families to network and socially interact in coping with dementia. It provides a community that helps us in our struggle."