Availability of The Otago Exercise Program (Otago) is currently very limited in New Jersey. The program, developed in New Zealand and administered nationally by the Carolina Geriatric Education Center at the University of North Carolina, is an in-home exercise and walking program that has proven effective in reducing falls and related injury risk for participants by 35%. It is intended for individuals who do not want or cannot attend a group exercise program or facility.
Otago is overseen by a licensed physical therapist who can be aided by a physical therapist assistant(s) or nurse(s). The assigned professional visits each participant four times in the home over the first two months and again for a booster session at six months. There are also once-a-month phone contacts when no visits are planned. The exercises include strengthening exercises for lower leg muscles using ankle weights, balance and stability exercises, and active range of motion. Participants are expected to exercise 30 minutes three times a week and walk outside the home twice a week as and when appropriate.
The New Jersey Division of Aging Services (DoAS) is supporting the expansion of Otago through a two-year grant it received in 2015 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living. Three agencies in New Jersey received funding to help 24 individuals complete the program by July 31, 2017. DoAS has also partnered with the Medicaid Managed Long Term Services and Supports (MLTSS) Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) and Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACEs) to offer the program to a limited number of their members.
For more information, call DoAS at 609-588-6654.