New iPad app tracks mobility among seniors

Mobility may be easily understood as a health indicator for the elderly. Generally, the more you move, the healthier you are. But figuring out how mobile a patient is isn't nearly as easy.

Two Wake Forest University colleagues recently published reports on their animated iPad app, the Mobility Assessment Tool (MAT), for just that purpose--helping senior patients describe more accurately how often they move and what problems they have with mobility.

The app takes about four minutes to complete, and shows seniors short videos of animated figures climbing stairs or walking while carrying an object. The user then touches the screen to indicate which tasks they can or can't accomplish. The product's creators say MAT works better than online videos because the patient can more easily see themselves attempting the tasks.

"In pilot testing, we found that the animation technology allowed older adults to project themselves into the tasks. This removed potential biases that would have occurred if actual people had been filmed doing the tasks," says Tony Marsh, one of MAT's creators.

The app is undergoing further testing as part of the National Institutes of Health's LIFE study on seniors' mobility/disability levels, as well as a new cross-cultural study of older adults' mobility in Canada, Brazil and Columbia.

For more information:
- read this article, courtesy of Wake Forest University
- check out their study "Using video animation to assess mobility in older adults"
- read their related study on development of a video-animated tool for assessing mobility