Sean Clark, far right, with a member and students at the Center for Balance, Mobility and Wellness.

What began ten years ago as a great idea to restore and maintain health for older adults has grown into an effective clinic that reaches the North Shore and merges scholarship with practice. Directed by Sean Clark, associate professor of kinesiology and chair of the department, the Center for Balance,Mobility and Wellness is located adjacent to Gordon’s Brigham Athletic Complex, and “offers clinical, academic and research expertise in treating individuals with neurological, vestibular (inner ear) and gait and balance disorders” as well as promoting healthy, active aging.

Clark’s research interests include balance assessment tools in athletes and older adults as well as effective treatment strategies to improve functional balance performance in older adults. Working with the community at the Center, he said, provides great opportunities both for students interested in kinesiology and for members who want to maintain or improve their physical condition.  Here’s some of the most recent data from Clark about the Center:

Scholarship in Action: The Center for Balance, Mobility and Wellness

By Sean Clark

The Center is a busy place. In terms of outpatient physical therapy, just in the 2011 calendar year, we’ve had over 750 new evaluations and over 5,000 patient visits. From January 2009 through May 2012, we gave 2,500 new evaluations and saw over 17,000 patient visits.  The word’s getting out within the medical community—over 400 physicians have referred and 150 regularly refer their patients to the Center. We’ve also seen a growing number of physicians from Boston, including MGH and MEEI (Mass Eye and Ear) who regard the Center as the preferred place to send their North Shore patients. This is especially true for neurologists and some PCPs, and even BU’s Medical Center views the Center as the preferred site for individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

Most patients are from towns throughout the North Shore, but they also come from as far away as Chelsea, Revere, Saugus to our south, Reading, Lynnfield, Woburn to our west, and Haverhill, Amesbury, Andover to our north, with occasional visitors from Maine and New Hampshire. And we’re beginning an exciting partnership right now with a local family physician who is also a Gordon alumni and a board certified sports & exercise medicine specialist to develop a post-concussion rehabilitation protocol.  (Details to come!)

The Center, though, also helps older adults maintain their health and wellness. We have a regular ‘club’ membership of over 150 individuals who come for fitness training or to participate in various exercise programs. We’ve hosted numerous free fitness screenings, community wellness programs and talks for the general public, special interest groups and health professional. In addition to working with various Councils on Aging from the area to promote active aging, we’ve also watched an increase in interest from our students and other CCCU schools as well as other scholars and professionals curious about our work and wanting to duplicate some procedures. We offer courses, internships and great opportunities for volunteers but we’ve been out in the community as well, at local high schools, health fairs and community groups and centers.  If there’s an Aging Senior Field Day or Community Walking program, we’ve probably been a part of it. And that’s good for everyone.