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Technology and health care for the elderly medical research studies

Focus on strategic priorities that have significant social impact.

CAT 2014-02

New technologies to optimize assessment of mobility, activity, and health in the frail elderly

This tool-kit and the information it provided will provide essential information to track the health trajectory of individuals; enabling health care professionals to better guide personalized care and as such, improve clinical outcomes and quality of life of older adults.

Research Results

Impact of findings: It has been argued that a measurement of mobility/balance should serve as a vital health sign, potentially as important as a measure like blood pressure, and should be collected routinely during clinical visits. Tools that clinicians can use to measure balance and walking in the clinic in order that they can detect changes and recommend strategies to improve mobility, reduce fall risk and enhance activity is a priority. This tool can assist in identifying and quantifying frailty. The tool is easy to use, low cost and sensitive enough to more easily reveal meaningful changes that occur over time by comparing results over repeated testing. This will facilitate earlier detection of acute or chronic changes and more timely interventions to counter such changes ultimately leading to improved care of frail elderly Canadians.

Publications, presentations and webinars

About the Project

Much attention has been directed to frailty as a specific threshold that is associated with significant risk to health in older adults. There remains considerable debate about the construct of the frailty threshold and the tools used to assess frailty, but what is clear is the need to quantify health status in order to denote important changes requiring attention. Advancing technology to improve the metrics used to quantify health status in older adults is critical in redefining important thresholds such as frailty, as well as improving the ability to predict individuals at risk of rapid progression, to assess the impact of specific risk factors and to assess interventions designed to slow or even reverse important frailty-related changes. Among these are metrics related to the domains of mobility, balance, activity and cognition. 

The primary focus of this proposal was to continue to advance the development of an inexpensive, wireless measurement system capable of quantifying changes in these areas. Prior to the program, no clinimetrically sensitive technology existed for use within routine clinical care to objectively quantify these domains as indicators of health status. Building upon a prototype system, the proposal aimed to address three objectives: (1) to improve the compatibility of the existing software, (2) to develop and implement a simplified user interface and (3) to develop and implement customized protocols and reporting suitable for older adults with complex health conditions.

For more details on the project rationale, hypothesis and objectives, click here.

Project Team

Principal Investigators:

William McIlroy, PhD -- University of Waterloo

Don Cowan, PhD, BASc, MSc -- University of Waterloo


Avril Mansfield, PhD, RKin -- Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network

Kathryn Sibley, PhD -- University of Manitoba

Knowledge Users and Partners:

Josie d'Avernas, MSc -- Schlegel Villages

Liz Inness, MSc, BScPT -- Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network

Jaimie Killingbeck, BSc, RKin -- Schlegel Villages

Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging

Project Contact: William McIlroy --

CAT 2014-02