One in five adults are thought to be living with a disability which dramatically affects their physical movement. Regular physical activity can help to improve the overall health of these individuals. While great progress has been made with developing ways to measure and predict physical activity levels and types, there is a lack of attention to developing ways to assess physical activity in disabled populations. With over $300 billion spent annually in the United States on Medical care costs related to disability, the need to develop ways to monitor and predict physical activity in these populations has become absolutely essential to both reduce these costs and improve the overall health of these individuals by understanding the different impairment and function levels of those with disabilities.
To address these issues, Dr. Scott Strath from the Center for Aging and Translational Research at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his team, which includes fellow Center Scientists, Dr. Ann Swartz and Dr. Kevin Keenan, will conduct an evaluation of physical activity in people with movement limitations. Dr. Strath and team recently received a $433,932.00 award from the National Institute of Health (NIH) for their research on “Physical Activity Calibration in Individuals with Movement Limitations.” This two year, two-part study hopes to provide an accurate measurement that can be used to assess physical behavior in all populations, irrespective of health, disease, or movement pattern differences since a vast majority of the work in this field has been isolated to individuals with no disabling conditions. The first part of the study will be used to measure the impairment and function across varying levels of functional ability. 192 local individuals aged 20-90, will be tested among 6 different groups including Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Arthritis, Low-Functioning, and General Populations. This part of the study will be used to provide a movement disorder analysis which will inform the first set of measures. The second part of the study will then create movement algorithms from body worn motions sensors, specific to the movement disorder grouping. The overall goal of the research is to help guide and develop more accurate wearable sensor calibration models that will allow for clearer descriptions of physical activity rates, effectiveness of behavior-based interventions, and dose-response relationships to prevent and manage disease conditions.