National Institute of Health

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the nation’s medical research agency—making important discoveries that improve health and save lives.

Thanks in large part to NIH-funded medical research, Americans today are living longer and healthier. Life expectancy in the United States has jumped from 47 years in 1900 to 78 years as reported in 2009, and disability in people over age 65 has dropped dramatically in the past 3 decades. In recent years, nationwide rates of new diagnoses and deaths from all cancers combined have fallen significantly.




Falling & Frailty (STTR)

As people live longer, behaviors that affect the risk of falling and frailty need to be identified in order to preserve functionality, resilience, and quality of life through the aging process.  Physical activity may act as a measure of functioning, as well as a predictor of falls and frailty.  There is not a lot of physical activity information right now, because the collection of this information has been difficult or uncomfortable. 

Funded by the NIH, the Physical Activity Monitoring in Frailty and Falling project will develop a wearable technology used for tele-health monitoring of elders using a single and easily wearable sensor, in collaboration with the University of Arizona’s Arizona Center on Aging and The UA Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA).

New tools for objective gait assessment are emerging that allow detailed quantification of gait characteristics in the clinical or home [1], and thus might improve frailty diagnosis. However, the association between frailty and quantitative gait characteristics other than velocity have received little research attention. In this project we address the association between frailty and gait as assessed by quantitative gait analysis.   (H: Schwenk_AGS_Review…)



Mobility scooters are increasingly used as an alternative form of transportation for older people and people with disabilities who have body control but limited walking ability, enabling maintained independence. Automatically analyzing the scooters position in space and the riders reaction to obstacles in her/his environment could provide immediate feedback and alarms during the ride itself, providing the driver just-in-time warnings regarding safety hazards such as rampless curbs, staircases, or when on a collision course. 

The goal of this project is to develop a low-cost and universal embedded sensory system to meet these challenges.