The SeniorSMART® Mobility Clinic, an initiative between Palmetto Health and the Physical Therapy Program at the Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina is a comprehensive clinic in downtown Columbia to study and treat mobility issues in South Carolina’s aging population. The Clinic is located at Carolina Medical Plaza, 3010 Farrow Rd., Suite 120 on the east side of the Palmetto Health Richland Campus.
The clinic’s team is organized by Palmetto Health physical therapist, Dr. Jonathan Donley, a faculty member at the USC School of Medicine. He assembled a team of Palmetto Health and USC experts in physical therapy, geriatric medicine, nursing, exercise science and social work.
The clinic will provide a forum to assess and apply the latest research techniques, including those that are not able to be applied in a traditional medical-model type facility, including time constraints and rehabilitation techniques.
The clinic will focus on three areas with the greatest impact on senior mobility:
• Falls – the leading cause of injury deaths for older adults;
• Stroke (neurological disorders) – the 3rd leading cause of death in South Carolina which has the highest death rate for the disease in the United States.
• Persistent back pain – a leading cause of activity-limitation for adults of all age groups.
Seniors are at special risk for death and disability from falls. Twenty per cent of persons over 65 who fall and facture a hip have a 20 percent mortality risk within a year. Moreover hip fractures are extraordinarily expensive to treat, with a typical break resulting in cost exceeding $100,000 or more.
The clinic will has the means to increase the odds against seniors experiencing falls and in helping stroke victims recover their balance and mobility. Reducing fall risk and helping stroke victims regain balance and mobility is being addressed by a multidisciplinary team approach.
Innovative techniques include using virtual reality goggles to train patients to identify potential obstacles or situations fraught with fall hazards. Another technique is Intensive Mobility Training™ (IMT), developed by USC Physical Therapist Dr. Stacy Fritz. IMT involves having a patient perform skilled training that challenges balance and coordination over a two-week period for three hours per day.
Dr Paul Beattie, another member of the USC Physical Therapy Program, is using new patient management models for pain and disability to individualize therapies for patients suffering from back pain and arthritis.
The clinic was being funded by a $930,000 grant from the Duke Endowment and a gift from Columbia businessman Don Tomlin, whose donation helped purchase three state of the art physical therapy machines.