The mission of the Mobility Division is to focus on challenges to physical movement across the life span. The goals of the Division are first, to address fundamental issues by supporting research in areas ranging from biology to the design of the built environment and second, to help translate the fruits of that research into products and policies that sustain or enhance mobility or develop accommodations for those individuals with limited mobility.

The ability of an individual to move his or her body, and to move from place to place, is key to functional independence and quality of life. During the course of a lifetime, particularly in old age, both of these fundamental competencies may become impaired. The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed the model below to visualize how individuals’ functional capabilities typically change over the life course.


The Mobility Division strives to help individuals maintain maximal functional capacity (blue line) for as long as possible. This includes research in lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise and social interaction, all of which can affect an individual’s daily physical activity. When functional capability declines and moves closer to the disability threshold, it may be necessary to intervene with treatments or products to flatten or “bend the curve” upward. When functional capacity cannot be restored, it may be necessary to alter the built environment around the individual to accommodate disability.

In addition to encouraging and supporting research on these topics, the Mobility Division strives to be a source of unbiased, scientifically-based information amid a proliferation of confusing, and often conflicting, messages from the public and private sectors.