In 2005, Carol Zehnacker, PT, DPT, founded a support and exercise group for people with osteoporosis. Not only was the condition the focus of her doctorate's capstone project, but she, too, has osteoporosis. She started the group after she realized that her patients needed more extensive weight-bearing exercise in order to build bone.
Under the guidance of Zehnacker, owner of Maryland-based Physical Therapy Consultants, LLC, the group meets every 2 weeks. "While we're doing weight-bearing exercises, we're talking and sharing information," she says. The session incorporates physical activities, such as balance work, that are specifically designed for people with osteoporosis. But the group—all of them women—also may share a pertinent newspaper article, relevant information from their physician, and related experiences from their daily life.
"Group members are bright and inquisitive. They question some of the things their physicians have told them. There definitely is an educational component," says Zehnacker, who is certified by APTA's Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy as an exercise expert in advanced aging, and also is a personal trainer. "As a physical therapist," she adds, "I share my experiences and expertise—what I've learned through research and working with other patients."