Predicting mobility impairments in elderly. (Rubicon personal grant Aug 2018- Aug 2020)

Ageing-related mobility impairments resulting from progressive movement limitations pose societal and economic burdens on our population. Ageing is accompanied by loss of physical properties such as muscle strength and power, bone health, and (joint)pain, for which elderly develop coping mechanisms in their movement strategies. Furthermore, movement strategies are influenced by preferences in movement objectives, in terms of avoidance of risk (stability, speed) and pain, as well as energy efficiency. However, scientists and clinicians do not yet fully understand the effects of decline of each individual physical property and movement objective, on the movement strategies of elderly, since only their combined actions can be observed. Therefore, it is unknown how much decline of each variable can be tolerated before daily activities become impaired, which impedes developments of (preventive) therapies. The aim of my study is to determine these individual and combined effects of decline, using a dynamic computational model that can quantitatively predict (simulate) how human movement strategies change as a result from progressively changing age-related physical properties and movement objectives. I will develop forward neuro-musculoskeletal models adjusted to ageing to perform these simulations. My models can support clinicians in prescribing more effective and efficient treatment to prolong mobility in elderly.

Stage 1: Development of musculoskeletal (MSK) models of elderly To apply and develop a forward dynamic framework for the simulation of elderly, I will develop an ageing model of the decline for separate physical variables.

Stage 2: Use forward simulations to determine the effect of ageing mechanisms on movement strategy The ageing musculoskeletal model will be implemented in existing forward simulation platforms (OpenSim, Scone). 

Stage 3: Verify the forward simulation results The simulated movement strategies will be compared to measured movement strategies of elderly.

Stage 4: Visualization of the optimizations Since the scope of my project is aimed at the clinical applicability of the results, I will visualize the results in an online open-source interactive user-interface visualization tool applicable for clinical specialists