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According to the World Health Organization (2007), age-related visual impairment is increasing. It is estimated that 65% of people who are visually impaired are over age 50 and 82% of those visually impaired over age 50 are blind (WHO, 2014).
• Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) is a national training program that serves individuals with blindness or low vision. As a non-profit organization, GDB provides all services free of charge to participants. Training lasts for two weeks with a class size of 6-8 students and instructor/student ratio of 1:2. Participants learn how to perform daily tasks with their dogs and venture out in the community during the on-campus training.
• When walking with a guide dog, different upper extremity muscles and postures are adopted. Older adults with low vision may not be in the proper physical condition to meet the strenuous demands of handling a guide dog due to the normal aging process and decreased mobility.
• There is an overall lack of research studies regarding muscles used with either a long cane or a guide dog; the project developers supplemented current literature with experts’ opinion from GDB.
• Occupational exercises can be integrated into older adults’ daily activities to stretch and strengthen the necessary muscles to handle a guide dog.
• Short-term goals of this project are to decrease muscle pain and injury when handling a guide dog and to facilitate older adults’ success in the GDB program.
• In the long term, this project may potentially help to increase the eligibility of older adults in preparing and maintaining the physical capability when partnering with a guide dog.
Ruth Ramsey, Ed.D., OTR/L
2015 Occupational Therapy Association of California 39th Annual Conference
Guide Dogs, Low Vision, Exercise Video, Older Adults, Occupational Therapy
DeRoos, Valerie J. and Moon, Skyler, "Gearing Up for Guide Dogs: An Exercise Video" (2015). Student Research Posters. 18.