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Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management

The Balance Lab

Why fall prevention and balance training?

Rural elderly in the Southeast region consistently rank as having the highest mortality rates in the nation due to the five leading causes of death, including unintentional injury due to falls. Rural older adults are more likely to fall than those in urban areas (32.5% vs. 29.5%), and this rural/urban gap widened in 2018.

In 2016, unintentional falls were the #1 cause of injury and death and the #1 cause of non-fatal injuries in those over 65 years of age. This issue is exacerbated in South Carolina by the rapid growth of the older adult population. Those over the age of 65 increased by almost 50% between 2000 and 2010, outpacing growth in the nation (10.7%) and the southern United States (19.7%). It is predicted that this population will increase 56% between 2015 and 2030 - and according to the South Carolina State Plan on Aging, 2017-2021, by 2030, 28% of South Carolinians will be over the age of 60 years. 

What can you do about falls?

  • Check your risk. Click here for resources.
  • Check your home. Click here for resources. 
  • Sign up for an evidence-based fall prevention class, such as A Matter of Balance.

About A Matter of Balance

A Matter of Balance is an award winning program designed to reduce the fear of falling and increase the activity levels of older adults who have concerns about falls. This evidence-based program utilizes volunteer coaches to teach sessions based on research conducted by the Roybal Center for Enhancement of Late-Life Function at Boston University. Classes will meet once a week for eight weeks or twice a week for four weeks. Each class is two hours long. During sessions, you will learn to:

  • View falls and fear of falling as controllable
  • Set realistic goals for increasing activity
  • Change environments to reduce risk factors
  • Use exercise to increase strength and balance 

Benefits of the class

  • Feel comfortable increasing activity and continuing exercising
  • Feel more comfortable talking about fear of falling 
  • Meet new friends
  • Provide support and encouragement to your peers
  • Become more involved in your community and with your neighbors

Who should take the class

The class is for any adult who fears falling. It is particularly suited for people who: 

  • Are concerned about falls
  • Have had a fall in the past
  • Restrict activities because of concerns about falling
  • Want to improve flexibility, balance and strength

Sign up for the class

Please click here to let us know of your interest in signing up for A Matter of Balance in your area. 

Click here to see when classes are offered. 

  • Our Team

    Research Team


    Marieke Van Puymbroeck, Ph.D., CTRS, FDRT, Associate Dean of the Graduate School and Professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management


    Karen Kemper, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director in the Department of Public Health Sciences

    crowe_headshot.jpgBrandi Crowe, Ph.D., LRT/CTRS, Assistant Professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

    Cheryl Dye, Ph.D., Director of the CU Institute for Engaged Aging 

    Graduate Students


    Ellie Lawrence, Public Health Sciences

    Sam Garrison, Public Health Sciences


    Tracy Weeks-Gariepy, Public Health Sciences 

  • Resources

    Want to see if you are at risk for falls? Click here

    Click here to check for safety at home. 

  • Get Involved

    You can help! We are currently recruiting coaches to deliver Matter of Balance classes in Pickens, Oconee, Laurens, Saluda, Greenwood, Abbeville, Fairfield and Newberry counties in upstate South Carolina. 

    Click here for more information. 





Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management | 170 Sirrine Hall