McMaster University

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[View Previous projects related to Mobility and Aging]

Mobility is related to maintaining physical functionality and independence, particularly for the aging population that dwells within the community.  Seniors that remain mobile experience delayed onset of chronic disease, better mental health and improved physical condition.

Identifying the risk profile of the individual and providing intervention, education and physical therapy will greatly impact the frequency and severity of injuries resulting from falls or frailty, and will lead to improved mobility and resilience.

  • Resilience and

  • Moving Up

  • Technology for
    Optimal Aging

  • Exercise and
    Healthy Aging

  • Exercise program
    for reducing falls

  • Preventing
    Hip Fractures
    in Elderly
  • Optimal Prescribing
    to Enhance Mobility
    Among Seniors
  • Dancing for Cognition
    and Exercise
  • Staying mobile:
    age related enhancement
  • Improving confidence
    and behind the wheel skills

Resilience and Longevity for Older Workers with Arthritis through Exercise

Monica Maly, Peter Keir and Jim Potvin
From left: Monica Maly, Peter Keir and Jim Potvin


Monica Maly, Peter Keir and Jim Potvin

Project Description:

The Canadian workforce is aging. While many Canadians between 45 and 64 years of age aim to continue working over the next 10 years, over 2 million of them will have arthritis. The unemployment rate for people with arthritis is worse than for any other chronic health condition. The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of an arthritis-specific aerobic and strengthening exercise program, delivered within the workplace, on work ability and resilience among older workers with knee or hip osteoarthritis. We will establish the first workplace exercise program designed to minimize damaging knee and hip loads among older workers with this disease.

Moving Up Stream:  Preventative Approaches to Preclinical Mobility Limitation for Community-Dwelling Older Adults

Sinead Dufour, Jenny Ploeg and Holly Reimer
From left: Sinead Dufour, Jenny Ploeg and Holly Reimer


Sinead Dufour, Julie Richardson, Jenny Ploeg, Maureen Markle-Reid, Lehana Thabane, Carrie McAiney and Holly Reimer

Project Description:

Limitations in mobility represent a common, costly problem amongst older adults in our health care system. The trend of an aging population elevates the significance of preservation of the capacity to live independently and to function well during late life.   Therefore, cost-effective interventions for primary prevention of preclinical mobility limitation (PCML) are needed.

This pilot project will enhance understanding related to the primary prevention of PCLM through the evaluation of a self-management mobility program compared to an existing group based program.

Technology for Optimal Aging: An exploratory study of the effects of automobile innovations on the lived experience of older drivers, their mobility, and social policy

Amanda Grenier, Antonio Páez, Jessica Gish and Brenda Vrkljan 
From left: Amanda Grenier, Antonio Páez, Jessica Gish and Brenda Vrkljan


Amanda Grenier, Jessica Gish, Brenda Vrkljan and Antonio Páez

Project Description:

Technology is advancing at an astonishing speed. The context of the automobile provides an opportunity to examine how in-vehicle systems might shape driving practices of older drivers and their perceptions of 'growing older.' Drawing on our interdisciplinary expertise (Geography, Social Science, Rehabilitation Science), this project aims to gather a more comprehensive picture of the following:

  • Capture the actual experiences and practices of older people who drive a high-tech car
  • Understand older driver's use of mobility and space
  • Examine legislation and policies targeting older drivers

Exercise and Healthy Aging

Gianni Parise
Gianni Parise


Gianni Parise

Project Description

Another route to slowing the progression of chronic disease and maintaining functional capacity is through retaining muscle mass and strength.  Dr. Gianni Parise in the Department of Kinesiology studies sarcopenia, or reduced lean muscle mass with age.  Continued regular exercise combined with adequate nutrition will protect against the loss of muscle mass and maintain health and mobility, however, the optimal combination of these factors is not well understood for the aging population. Moreover, it is thought that the muscle satellite cells (MSC), implicated in muscle regeneration and strength, may be dysfunctional in the elderly. Dr. Parise's program of research studies the link between MSC activation, exercise, nutrition and age and plans to develop guidelines for the aging population in order to sustain muscle strength and mobility.

Pilot study of a tailored home balance exercise program for reducing falls in older adults with COPD

Gianni Parise
Marla Beauchamp


Marla Beauchamp, Dina Brooks, Roger Goldstein, Stewart Pugsley and Julie Richardson

Project Description

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is highly prevalent among older adults and is a leading cause of death, disability and hospitalization in Canada.   There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that older adults with COPD have important problems with their balance and a high incidence of falls compared to those of a similar age. This research will explore the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a tailored 6-month home balance exercise program for reducing falls in older adults with COPD.  If the tailored home program is feasible and shows evidence of efficacy on intermediate outcomes linked to falls, this approach will represent a novel strategy for fostering resilience in the event of a fall and for reducing risk of future falls for the large population of older Canadians with COPD. Results of this pilot study will be used to develop a larger-scale trial of fall prevention for older adults with COPD with increased fall risk.

Preventing Hip Fractures in the Elderly by Mapping Subject-Specific Finite Element Models

Gianni Parise
Cheryl E. Quenneville


Cheryl E. Quenneville

Project Description

Hip fractures are a significant concern for older Canadians, and their incidence can be reduced through implementation of protective measures for those most at risk.  However, clinical diagnosis of osteoporosis (and corresponding fractures) is done using DXA scans, which are insufficient for accurately predicting this risk.  Finite element (FE) models allow a complete investigation of a patient's hip, but have yet to be implemented clinically.  This project will focus on developing a new technique to map a validated FE model of the hip to patient-specific parameters from DXA scans, allowing for a semi-automated clinically-relevant method to accurately predict an individual's fracture risk.  This will allow implementation of preventative interventions for those most in danger prior to sustaining a devastating fracture.

Optimal Prescribing to Enhance Mobility Among Seniors: A GeriMedRisk-TAPERMD collaboration

Dee Mangin and Joanne Ho
Left to Right: Dee Mangin and Joanne Ho


Joanne Ho, Dee Mangin, Andrew Costa, Gordon Guyatt, Anne Holbrook, Reza Mirza, Julie Richardson, Justin Lee, Lehana Thabane, Kristina Frizzle

Project Description:

Multiple diseases, multiple medications, and age predispose seniors to drug toxicity which increases the risk of mortality and impairs mobility and cognition. GeriMedRisk-TAPERMD is a comprehensive multilevel approach to polypharmacy that integrates a geriatric pharmacology consultation service and a clinical pathway for systematic medication reduction that incorporates teamwork between patient pharmacist and physicians. It integrates patient priorities, electronic screening for potentially harmful medicines, supporting evidence tools and a monitoring pathway to support medication reduction. This project will:

  • Examine the feasibility of GeriMedRisk-TAPERMD in the long term care setting.
  • Assess GeriMedRisk-TAPERMD's potential to decrease drug-related hospital visits and falls.
  • Assess the potential for reversal of polypharmacy-associated mobility impairment following de-prescribing using the TAPERMD clinical pathway.

Dancing for Cognition and Exercise Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial


Alexandra Papaioannou, Courtney Kennedy, George Ioannidis, Richard Sztramko, Dafna Merom, Laurel Trainor, Matthew Woolhouse, Amanda Grenier, Sharon Marr, Christopher Patterson

Project Discription:

There is emerging evidence regarding the health benefits of simultaneous cognitive and physical training. Dance is a promising optimal aging strategy as it incorporates both cognitive and physical components and the social aspects may additionally contribute to adherence and effectiveness. In partnership with the YMCA, the intervention will be delivered as twice weekly dance classes for six-months. The program features a collection of ballroom dances that will be tailored to the group and increase progressively in complexity. 

 The DANCE study will:

  • recruit pre-frail older adults with early impairments in cognition and mobility
  • assess the feasibility of a dance intervention
  • examine whether the intervention reduces frailty and improves cognition, mobility and quality of life.

Staying mobile: age-related enhancement of multisensory integration

Martin von Mohrenschildt and Judith Shedden
Left to Right: Martin von Mohrenschildt and Judith Shedden


Martin von Mohrenschildt, Judith M Shedden

Project Description:

For older drivers, maintaining safe, independent mobility is vitally important for self-sufficiency, quality of life, and self-esteem. How do good drivers adapt to maintain safe performance on the road as they age? This project will lead to a better understanding of the neural and behavioural changes involved in driving and aging so that we can develop strategies to safely maintain self-sufficiency and mobility for aging drivers by:

  1. Using physiological and brain-imaging techniques in a multisensory (visual, auditory, proprioceptive, and vestibular) driving simulator.
  2. Examining how age-related enhancement of multisensory integration may be critical for older drivers.

Improving confidence and behind-the-wheel skills: Evaluating the feasibility of an older driver-health promotion intervention to optimize safe mobility

Jessica Gish, Brenda Vrkljan, Lauren Griffith
Left to Right: Jessica Gish, Brenda Vrkljan, Lauren Griffith


Brenda Vrkljan, Jessica Gish, Lauren Griffith

Research Description:

Driving is the preferred mode of transportation in North America and many older adults, particularly those in rural and suburban areas, rely on driving to access the people and places that keep them healthy and active. Ensuring their behind-the-wheel skills match the demands of the driving environment is important. This project brings together leading experts in aging, health, and driving from the Faculties of Social Science and Health Sciences to:

1) Examine a novel training program targeting healthy older drivers that provides tailored feedback.
2) Explore the perceptions of older male and females when it comes to their driving ability, confidence and how this corresponds with their performance and attitudes towards driver retraining.