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Active Aging Research Hub
Promoting Active Aging and Preserving Mobility and Freedom
Across the world, societies are straining to cope with their aging populations, with all the resultant strain on financial resources and attendant challenges to society at large.
Aging is characterized by deterioration in overall functioning. For example, aging very often leads to difficulties in walking and maintaining balance. These lead to falling and to injury, and to further deterioration in overall health.
Acutely aware that mobility means freedom and autonomy, the Hub’s goal is to develop creative and systemic diagnostics, methodologies, and tools that will help prevent and reduce motor and mental deterioration among older people.
BGU researchers have already developed a special treadmill that allows them to study the mechanisms of balance recovery and to train seniors in improving balance, mobility, and fall prevention.
The Active Aging Research Hub is united in a mission to improve understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the aging process. Researchers use pre- clinical (animal) and clinical (human) studies, including both functional and structural imaging approaches. They study the motor and cognitive deficits of older adults with motor disorders in order to directly correlate specific disabilities with imaging results.
The Hub was established to create a common overarching perspective, taking into consideration an array of various social and psychological issues impacting on mental, cognitive, and physical deterioration.
For example, robotics, bio-medical and industrial experts and engineers work with physiologists and physical therapists to explore social robotics as a customized means of coping with loneliness and isolation among seniors. One of their developments is the “Sit Less” project, employing a user-friendly robot to counter sedentariness by reminding the individual to remain active and mobile, programmed with the voice of a grandchild.
The Hub’s primary goal is to promote active aging, but the tools and methods developed would be applicable to other diseases and patients. The Hub’s end results would be “translational” and of use to stroke and Parkinson’s disease patients, and individuals suffering from neuromuscular illnesses or traumatic brain injuries. Indeed, Spain’s premier league soccer club, Real Sociedad, used the Hub’s developments to train balance reactions in soccer players who were injured during the season.
By striving to first better understand the underlying mechanisms of aging, and then using this knowledge to develop improved diagnostics and treatments, the Active Aging Hub will contribute to a healthier and happier society.
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