The long-term goal of this project is to develop "smart health" technology for individuals with poor balance control due to aging. A critical component of healthy aging is mobility. When mobility is limited, health and quality of life declines dramaticaly while adding significant cost to the health care system. "Smart health" technologies are poised to play a key role in maintaining mobility and reducing the growth of health care costs. Two major barriers to treating mobility problems in older adults are access and cost. Our approach is to modify a well-established device (i.e., treadmill) from its current focus on cardiovascular training to that of balance and body position control. Control of human upright stance requires sensory input from multiple sources to detect self-motion and to generate appropriate muscle responses. Older individuals have degraded self-motion perception and often generate inappropriate postural responses to maintain equilibrium, increasing their risk for falls. The need is to provide an easy-to-use, affordable device that provides augmented sensory input which has been proven to improve control of self-motion and balance during walking, during which falls are most frequent.
The specific aim of the project is: To determine whether improved control of body position through treadmill walking with visual feedback leads to enhanced functional mobility. Subjects walk on the sensory treadmill the moving subject's trunk. Trunk data are then displayed as a walking avatar that subjects control with their in front of a visual screen while two web cams track markers on body movements. Preliminary data demonstrate that subjects effectively use the visual feedback to improve control of body position and orientation while on the treadmill. The project will compare the effects of eight-week interventions with a typical treadmill versus a sensory treadmill in fall-prone older subjects through pre- post clinical evaluations of functional mobility. The results of this project will illustrate how new technology can address the functional needs of the aging population, by providing access to balance training in a safe, affordable and effective manner.
The long-term goal of this project is to develop smart health technology for individuals with poor balance control due to aging. A critical component of healthy aging is mobility, without which quality of life declines dramatically. This project will illustrate how new technology can expand current health equipment, to address the functional needs of the aging population, providing access to balance training for a large segment of the population in a safe, affordable and effective manner.
|Anson, E; Agada, P; Kiemel, T et al. (2014) Visual control of trunk translation and orientation during locomotion. Exp Brain Res 232:1941-51|