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  • Stanley Paris Ends Sail Early

    More than 6 weeks after beginning his journey, adventurer and physical therapist Stanley Paris, PT, PhD, FAPTA, FAAOMPT, has been forced to abandon his attempt to solo circumnavigate the globe nonstop. Paris announced that he would be heading to land in Cape Town, South Africa, in the face of rigging problems and other equipment failures that made continuation "foolish in the extreme."

    At age 76, Paris was attempting to break the speed and age record for the solo voyage, and had hoped to complete the journey in 120 days. Though he was forced to delay his start date to December 2 due to weather, during the following weeks Paris reported good progress despite some unfavorable winds and an injury.

    When rigging and other equipment began to malfunction, Paris reported the conditions to the designers of his yacht, the Kiwi Spirit, as well as to the support group helping him execute his plan. Their shared opinion: end the attempt. "I think the widespread failures across so many systems would have kept a crewed grand prix boat on shore," the president of the yacht design company wrote to Paris. "To have this combination of problems in your injured state is inviting disaster… Please make the prudent decision and stop."

    In his blog, Paris described how he viewed the news "I should say I am sorry to disappoint so many," he wrote. "But there is one thing I can say and that is, 'I tried,' and that my spirit did not give up until those that I must respect made it clear to me that it was over." Paris stated that he will not attempt the journey again because "I have asked enough of my wife and family already."

    The attempt by Paris was made in part to bring attention to the Foundation for Physical Therapy, where he serves on the Board of Trustees. His sailing efforts have helped to raise over $250,000 for the Foundation.

    Vitamin D May Reduce Falls Risk

    Older adults given vitamin D and calcium supplements may reduce their risk for falls, according to a consensus opinion published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

    Researchers found that a minimum daily vitamin D supplement of 1,000 international units accompanied by calcium (common calcium dosages ranged between 500 and 1,200 milligrams per day) could help reduce the risk of falls and the severity of injury when falls do occur. The research group supported the recommended daily average of 4,000 international units from all sources, and recommended use of vitamin D2 or D3 as supplements. D2 is appropriate for use by vegetarians.

    Authors wrote that "although there is no evidence that age alone is a risk factor for low vitamin D levels, lack of exposure to sunlight in long-term care settings" is associated with the drop. The opinion is based on research that included an extensive review of all meta-analyses published before 2008 on the relationship of vitamin D, calcium supplementation, and falls in older adults, as well as Medline literature reviews for articles published between 2006 and 2009.

    APTA provides education on exercise prescriptions for balance improvement and falls prevention, and offers other resources for physical therapists, such as how to develop consumer events on balance, falls, and exercise, and information on evidence-based falls programs. Members can also access an APTA pocket guide on falls risk reduction (.pdf) as well as take part in an online community where members can share information about falls prevention.