iPad Animation Helps Assess Mobility In Elderly

Mobility is closely linked to overall health and quality of life, but health care professionals have not had an easy and effective way to assess it.   To solve the problem, Tony Marsh and Jack Rejeski developed the Mobility Assessment Tool (MAT) with the help of colleagues in the computer science department and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.  The MAT is a unique way to assess mobility in older adults using video animation rather than written questions. Created for the iPad and the PC, the MAT takes about four minutes to complete. The score provides information that helps older adults better understand their current mobility and can provide a yardstick to monitor changes in how well they get around.  Using an iPad or PC, older adults watch short videos of animated figures performing everyday tasks such as climbing stairs or walking while carrying a bag of groceries. The videos help senior citizens picture themselves doing these tasks. They then use the touch screen to indicate what they can and cannot do.

Marsh and Rejeski say the MAT is a quick, simple and cost-effective way to accurately measure mobility and may help practitioners plan appropriate interventions to remediate limitations. They envision the elderly getting “activity prescriptions” to improve their physical function based on the results of the Mobility Assessment Test. The MAT could easily be administered in the waiting room before a patient talks to the physician. The MAT offers some advantages over written questionnaires and can be used when actually having the older adult perform each task is not possible or practical.

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