published: Friday, March 15, 2013
HALLO's passive exercise program has room for many more
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING -- Tucked behind the Highlands Regional Medical Center, the Handicapped Americans Love of Life Organization Inc. (HALLO) provides a center for passive exercise.
Deanna Pieretti, its founder and director, said a newly received grant now allows the center to bring in physical thearpist Dr. Felicia Coke two times a week. Coke will evaluate individual levels of mobility and needs.
"Passive exercise is done with the help of a machine," Pieretti said. "There are seven tables with moving parts -- each has a different motion to tone muscles, increase circulation, regain range of motion and mobility, and release stress. It's as much prevention as it is rehabilitation."
Candidates for joint replacement surgery or recovering, benefit greatly, Pieretti said. Before surgery it helps strengthen the body for the procedure and helps promote healing afterwards. "It is excellent for people post rehab and maintains health," Pierette said.
Bea Lonergan, in her mid-80s, but looking closer to 65, has been taking advantage of the exercise program for about a year.
"It makes a big difference," she said. "It's really good for the leg muscles and stomach and keeps you nice and limber. It's great fun."
Pieretti said the typical program has individuals spending up to 10 minutes on each of the seven machines. "In a little over an hour, you've had a complete workout." Pieretti said. "The most effective routine is to come three days a week."
HALLO, which is a unique program, has been in Highlands for close to three decades, but it has always been a struggle to build up a local clientele. It persists in being a too well kept secret, Pieretti said.
The center is open to the public. It costs $4 a session. The cost is kept down as an incentive, made possible by volunteer workers.
Yearly memberships for $25 are available.
In addition to the exercise center, HALLO takes part in many health fairs and runs support groups at various regular venues: The first Thursday of the month for people with traumatic brain injuries; the second Thursday for amputees and the third Thursday for those with low vision. Call for additional information.
Pieretti plans to begin a stroke victim support group in the future.
In the mean time she invites everyone to stop by for a visit and chance to try out the tables.
Call 385-1196 or visit www.halloinc.org. The center is at 112 Medical Center Ave.
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