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MEDIA CONTACT: Kristine M. Gobbo
561-463-0777, Kristine@spectrum-publicrelations.com

FAU Faculty Awarded NIH Grant to Study Effect of ‘Sit N Fit’ Chair Yoga Program on Osteoarthritis Patients

Program to Launch in Late-January 2014

BOCA RATON, Fla. (October 23, 2013) - Florida Atlantic University Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing professor Ruth McCaffrey, DNP, FAAN, and Juyoung Park, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the School of Social Work within FAU’s College for Design & Social Inquiry, were recently awarded a $389,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the effect of the “Sit N Fit” Chair Yoga Program on adults ages 65 years and older with osteoarthritis who are unable to participate in standing exercises.  According to the American Journal of Managed Care, osteoarthritis is a leading cause of pain and disability among elders, currently affecting 57 million people in the United States. The Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases Journal estimates that 70 percent of people over 70 years of age suffer from osteoarthritis and associated symptoms. 

“This grant provides us with the opportunity to collect evidence about the health outcomes and potential effectiveness of the ‘Sit N Fit’ Chair Yoga Program in elders with osteoarthritis,” said McCaffrey.  “Creating an evidence-based program that can be replicated is important as it has the potential to disseminate safe, effective, low-cost and widely available treatment for this disabling joint disease.”

Although exercise and yoga are treatment approaches to reducing pain and improving function in adults with osteoarthritis, up to 50 percent of elders cannot participate in traditional exercises or yoga classes due to decreased balance, pain or fear of falling.  The “Sit N Fit” Chair Yoga Program is a safe alternative since it is practiced in a chair or using a chair for support during gentle yoga exercises.  The overall goal of this program is to decrease pain, and improve physical and psychosocial functions of elderly individuals with osteoarthritis who are unable to participate in other exercise and yoga programs.

This study is expected to take two years to complete and will measure both physiologic and psychosocial outcomes associated with the “Sit N Fit” Chair Yoga program. Physical measures include pain, balance, gait speed and walking ability. Psychosocial measures include emotional distress and depression, life satisfaction, fatigue and the ability to participate in social interactions. 

“The interdisciplinary focus of this project in the areas of physical and psychosocial health has the potential to broaden applications across health care professions,” said Park.  “If our study supports the efficacy of this approach, we hope the ‘Sit N Fit’ Chair Yoga Program will be adopted wherever older adults congregate so it improves their functional ability.”  

The potential impact of this study on public health is high, as this program has the potential to keep elders in the community for a longer time, contributing to a reduction in the cost of healthcare for the growing number of aging adults. If “Sit N Fit” Chair Yoga decreases pain, and improves physical function and psychosocial well-being, the healthcare cost savings for osteoarthritis management could be dramatic.

Osteoarthritis sufferers who are 65 years or older who would like to participate in the study at either the North East Focal Point Senior Center in Deerfield Beach or Douglas Gardens Housing Facility in Pembroke Pines in late-January 2014 should contact McCaffrey for details at rmccaffr@fau.edu or contact Park at jpark14@fau.edu.

For more information on FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, visit http://nursing.fau.edu/.

This project is supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health through grant number 1R15AT007352-01A1.

-FAU-

About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.

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