Cape Cod Rehab Fighting Falls Program Reaches New Nationwide Audience through Virtual Platform

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Massachusetts Physical Therapy clinic recently added a virtual option for its popular evidence-based balance and stability program, Fighting Falls, to keep seniors independent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friends participating from both sides of the country.

Virtual Fighting Falls on Zoom

We know inactivity leads to deconditioning and loss of muscle tone in turn increases the risk of falling. The Fighting Falls Team knew that we had to react to develop the program for a virtual audience while maintaining safety and effectiveness.

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cape Cod Rehab added a virtual option for its popular evidence based balance and stability program, Fighting Falls, to reach a new nationwide audience through twice a week zoom meetings.

Cape Cod Rehab Physical Therapists began treating patients virtually via Telehealth appointments during the pandemic and the personal trainers developed FitPlan Live, a virtual platform for personal training, fitness classes and specialty programs like Fighting Falls.

"The over 65 age group is particularly vulnerable to the virus and as a group they have been less active in both their social lives and their exercise programs," said Joe Carroll PT DPT SCS, owner of Cape Cod Rehab and Mashpee Fitness. He added, "We know inactivity leads to deconditioning and loss of muscle tone in turn increases the risk of falling. The Fighting Falls Team knew that we had to react to develop the program for a virtual audience while maintaining safety and effectiveness. If we are able to prevent one person from falling and keep them out of the hospitals and assisted living centers where the pandemic has been devastating, we may be saving a life."

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 3 adults (aged 65 and older) falls every year. Physical activity is a major factor in keeping good health and maintaining independence through the aging process. Fighting Falls, a balance and stability program, was designed by Cape Cod Rehab in the fall of 2014 to develop balance, coordination, flexibility, and strength to reduce the risk of falls and improve activities of daily living.

Significant time and resources were invested to develop the program. A team of Physical Therapists and Personal Trainers formed to oversee the program, research, and develop testing procedures for continued improvement. They continue to meet regularly to refine the program by getting feedback from the participants and analyzing the results.

In its 5-year history, Fighting Falls has helped several hundred participants ranging in age from 66-91. The participants meet twice weekly for 4 weeks. The program begins with baseline testing to determine each person’s fall risk and includes discussion of risk factors followed by exercises targeting balance and posture.

One of the tests includes the Timed Up and Go (TUG) Test. The TUG is a quick test for function and is an excellent predictor of falls. The participant starts seated in a chair and walks to a marker on the ground, turns around, and returns to the chair. The time it takes for the participant to complete this test is recorded. For community dwelling adults, a score above 13 seconds is indicative of an increased risk. We have found that participants who continue to take the class are able improve their scores, and most are able to maintain their scores under 13 seconds.

While most of Fighting Falls aims at preventing falls, participants also learn what to do if they fall. The instructors provide them with the tools they need and techniques to successfully stand up from the floor, something that is a struggle for most older adults.

Lynette Robinson from Falmouth, MA introduced her friend Lyn to the Virtual program and they participated together from different sides of the country.

"The opportunity to see my best friend of over 50 years twice a week in our Fighting Falls class was just wonderful. Lyn lives in Seattle and I am here in [Massachusetts]. Not only were we spending two hours together each week, but after class we were always checking in to see if we were continuing with the exercises suggested."

Fighting Falls helps to build confidence while educating in a supportive, small group environment. The virtual option aims to keep seniors feeling safe and connected especially during this unusual time.

The program has grown each year, initially at one facility, now all three Cape Cod Rehab locations offer monthly sessions. The pandemic had put a pause on the in person groups, but recently has resumed outdoors as well as virtually. The goal is to continue the monthly schedule and bring the program back indoors when it is safe to do so.

To view and register for upcoming sessions of Virtual Fighting Falls, visit

Locally owned and operated for over 30 years, Cape Cod Rehab specializes in the Burdenko Method, Aquatic Therapy, Orthopedic and Sports Injury Physical Therapy, medical exercise prescription, along with the conditioning and training of athletes. Their motto is “Getting you back on your feet and into the game!”

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Jen Skiba
Cape Cod Rehab
+1 (508) 477-4800
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Joseph Carroll
Cape Cod Rehab
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