LIFE: PREVENTING DISABILITY THROUGH EXERCISE AND SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT, January 2010
The aging of the Baby Boomer generation sets the stage for a potentially unprecedented number of Americans facing risks of functional impairment and disability associated with aging. National disability trends over the past decade among adults ages 65 and older have been sobering. After several decades of declines, disability rates have increased during the first five years of this century.
For some time exercise and social interaction have offered hope in helping elders maintain normal function, but now researchers are considering whether they may also help stave off disability.
Center on Longevity faculty affiliate Dr. Abby King and her team at the Stanford Prevention Research Center are studying just this question. They are a part of the Lifestyle Intervention and Independence for Elders life study, a large multisite trial that compares the effects of introducing a moderate-intensity physical activity program to a successful aging health education program. In sedentary older persons who are at risk of disability, Dr. King describes the importance of the study in creating data to advise the public on the best path to avoiding disability. “It is imperative that we continue to identify strategies for improving or maintaining functional health as people age,” she said.
A NEW RESEARCH CENTER AT STANFORD WILL ADDRESS MOBILITY DISORDERS WITH POWERFUL 3-D SIMULATIONS OF A PATIENT’S MOVEMENTS, December 2010
Bioengineering Professor Scott Delp is the director of a new national center for rehabilitation research at Stanford. The center will focus on using powerful software that simulates human movement to investigate movement disorders and identify the best treatments for patients.
A movement disorder can have many origins, such as a birth defect, spinal cord injury or stroke. Rehabilitation scientists facilitate treatment of mobility disorders by studying the bodily cause of physical impairments and providing a scientific basis for therapies that can improve function. Simulating a patient’s movement in three-dimensional computer models can help uncover the source of the problem, whether it’s the size of a particular muscle or bone or the way these components perform.
Computer models also provide a visual platform on which to test whether surgery would improve mobility for a specific patient. Read more
$12.7 MILLION GRANT FOR STUDY OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY TREATMENT, September 2010
Researchers led by Center on Longevity faculty affiliate Thomas Robinson MD, MPH have been awarded a $12.7 million, seven year National Institutes of Health grant to design a pediatric weight-control program. Combatting childhood obesity can help prevent problems later in life, such as diabetes and chronic disease. Collaborators include three other Center affiliates: Jay Bhattacharya MD, PhD, William Haskell PhD and Paul Wise MD, MPH.
“Our study will test a very exciting new model for treating overweight and obese kids,” Robinson said. “Currently, most communities have few resources to help these children and their families.” Robinson directs the Center for Healthy Weight at Packard Children’s Hospital. The center’s intensive, six-month pediatric weight-control program has a great track record: More than 80 percent of participants succeed in reducing their excess weight. But most of the nation’s overweight children lack access to an equivalent program. Read more