For the one in eight Americans now over the age of 65, mobility is a "vital sign" that should be regularly checked, according to two health and exercise science professors at Wake Forest University. The researchers have developed the “Mobility Assessment Tool,” or MAT, to assess mobility in older adults using video animation rather than written questions.
Created for the Apple iPad and the PC, MAT takes about four minutes to complete, the researchers said. The output score provides information to help older adults better understand their current mobility, providing a yardstick to monitor changes in how well they get around.
The tool presents short videos of animated figures performing everyday tasks such as climbing stairs or walking while carrying a bag of groceries. These videos are intended to allow senior citizens to picture themselves doing the displayed tasks. Seniors then use a touch screen to indicate what they can and cannot do.
“In pilot testing, we found that the animation technology allowed older adults to project themselves into the tasks,” researchers said. “This removed potential biases that would have occurred if actual people had been filmed doing the tasks.”