BFA Statement

Limited Mobility Exercise Equipment

Audrey Clarke,  aeclarkeart@gmail.com


Background: 

Falling is the biggest risk factor for older adults for a loss of mobility from injury. Loss of mobility, which is common among older adults, has profound social, psychological, and physical consequences. “If you’re unable to get out then you can’t go shopping, you can’t go out with your friends to eat dinner or go to the movies, and you become dependent on other people to get you places. So you become a recluse, you stay home, you get depressed. With immobilization comes incontinence, because you can’t get to the bathroom, you can develop urinary infections, skin infections. The list goes on,” says geriatrician Dr. Suzanne Salamon, an instructor at Harvard Medical School. Mental and physical health can be negatively impacted by lack of exercise, and is worsened with a physical lack of mobility, whether it is a new issue or lifelong issue. 

I watched members of my family perform physical therapy exercises in the home for months after they had experienced a traumatic surgery. The only equipment provided to them was a set of resistance bands and some printed instructions on paper. Without further instruction or any assistance from a home-nurse, performing exercises alone can lead to mistakes and slower progress of healing or even cause injury. A lack of mobility from age, injury, surgery, or a chronic condition, can warrant the need for physical therapy, but the lack of mobility makes it difficult to perform the exercises and stay motivated. Most equipment available does nothing to aid with motivation, and is often an eyesore in a person’s home environment.

Problem statement

Not only can mental and physical health be impacted by a lack of physical mobility, but a vicious cycle may occur where lack of exercise leads to higher risk of injury and mobility issues, leaving the user unable to exercise. Physical therapy is typically used as a tool to regain mobility after an injury or surgery, and most at-home exercise equipment does not target the range of needs that an older user may have.

Hypothesis

If there were a preventative physical therapy tool for at-home users that not only helped older adults and seniors exercise regularly while fitting into their home, then there would be less of a risk of injury resulting in limited mobility, allowing users to maintain autonomy and health longer. 


Methodology: 

Research current product market, different types of limited mobility causes and effects, different types of user adaptable/accessible equipment (besides exercise), user testing with a survey instrument.