MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The West Virginia University Department of Orthopaedics is looking for 10 religious congregations (e.g., church, mosque, synagogue, temple, etc.) in Calhoun, Ritchie and Roane counties to participate in the first phase of a fall-prevention study using Tai Chi exercise.

The purpose of the study is to evaluate how the fall-prevention exercise program "Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance" is implemented in religious congregations in rural West Virginia, and whether they can sustain the program after the funded study concludes. The program is a self-paced, group exercise class that can reduce falls and improve muscle strength, flexibility, sleep, balance and quality of life.

The study will eventually enroll 240 men and women, aged 65 years and older, in the 16-week exercise class. Information will be collected from the participants at the beginning and end of the class and after a 16-week follow-up.

Dina L. Jones, P.T., Ph.D., associate professor in the WVU Department of Orthopaedics and Division of Physical Therapy and affiliate faculty in the WVU Injury Control Research Center, will be conducting the study, "Translation of an Evidence-Based Fall-Prevention Program into Rural West Virginia Churches." The study was recently funded as part of a five-year, $4.1 million grant that was awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the WVU Injury Control Research Center.

The project will include: modifying the exercise program specifically for use in religious environments in West Virginia, conducting a 16-week exercise class in 240 older adults in 20 congregations over two years, evaluating the program and sharing the results with religious and public health partners.

For religious congregations in Calhoun, Ritchie and Roane counties that want more information about participating in this study, please contact Jennifer Eicher, project coordinator, at 1-855-314-0742 (toll-free) or jeicher@hsc.wvu.edu, or Dr. Dina Jones at 304-293-1078 or dljones@hsc.wvu.edu

For full release: see wvuhealthcare.com

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