Physical Health and Function
Through the Marcus Institute’s research we are learning how older adults can maintain independence and quality of life.
Research About Maintaining Physical Function as We Age
Mobility is the most common disability among older Americans. More than 40 percent of older adults ages 65-79 have at least one disability in either self-care, household activity, or mobility. For those 80 years and older, this share rises to more than 70 percent.
Moreover, 10 percent of older adults in the community and up to 50 percent in nursing homes have frailty, which is a state of increased vulnerability resulting from a decline in function across multiple systems of the body. The "oldest old" are especially at risk of developing the condition.
Maintaining physical function as we age is key to living independently and continuing the lifestyle and activities that bring us meaning and joy.
The Marcus Institute's research into the physical health and function of older adults focuses in six main areas:
Marcus Institute Research About Maintaining Mobility and Preventing Frailty in Older Adults
The Marcus Institute's research programs are dedicated to uncovering how physical health and function of older adults impacts their quality of life, and discovering interventions to maintain physical health and function.
Marcus Institute researchers are:
- Investigating innovative methods to measure and apply frailty in various clinical and research settings
- Examining the prevalence, causes, and prevention of frailty
- Studying the prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders including fractures, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, sarcopenia and hyperkyphosis
- Examining the role of diet and nutrition in bone and muscle health and frailty
- Conducting ground-breaking research in the use of non-invasive brain stimulation to improve mobility and balance and reduce falls among older adults
Explore this section to learn more about current research projects underway to study and improve physical health and function in older adults.
Find current research projects
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Mentoring Patient-Oriented Research to Prevent Injury in Older Adults
The goal of this Midcareer Investigator Award is to grow the field of young investigators properly trained in aging research, and to improve the health of frail, older adults through Dr. Berry`s research efforts focused on unintentional injury.
Modulating Brain Networks to Reduce Gait Variability in Older Adults at Risk of Falling
This research aims to examine the effects of non-invasive brain stimulation on resting-state functional connectivity and gait variability and related outcomes in older adults at risk of falling.
Multifocal Transcranial Current Stimulation for Cognitive and Motor Dysfunction in Dementia
This research aims to assess the possibility of concurrent targeting prefrontal (executive-control) and memory brain circuits to improve different cognitive disabilities in individuals with dementia using personalized, multi-focal non-invasive brain stimulation delivered as a home-based, remotely supervised intervention.
NFLPA/Harvard Accelerated Research Collaboration to Protect and Improve the Health of Football Players
The project will implement kinematic assessments of gait and balance into the Harvard Football Players Health Study (FPHS) in-person assessments of retired professional American-style football players. The scientific aim of this study is to determine the effects of long-term exposure to this sport on health outcomes in later life.
NIA AD/ADRD Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory (IMPACT)
The NIA AD/ADRD Collaboratory will provide the national infrastructure necessary to catalyze and support embedded pragmatic clinical trials of non-pharmacological interventions for persons with dementia. By convening national experts to provide consultation and guidance to Collaboratory-funded pilot projects and NIA-funded trials, the Collaboratory has the potential to transform care delivery, quality, and outcomes for millions of Americans suffering with AD/ADRD.
Novel Molecular Biomarkers of Bone Microarchitecture
This research aims to determine the role of metabolomics in age-related bone loss and fractures; and if clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential contributes to bone density, microarchitecture, and strength.
Nursing Home Prevention of Injury in Dementia (NH PRIDE)
This research aims to develop and implement an Injury Liaison Service in four nursing home facilities that will promote deprescribing psychoactive and cardiometabolic drugs and encourage osteoporosis treatment.
Optimizing Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) to Improve Dual Task Gait and Balance in Older Adults
This research aims to use personalized transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to improve dual task standing and walking in older adults.
Personalized Brain Activity Modulation to Improve Balance and Cognition in Elderly Fallers
This research aims to determine the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on the control of standing and walking in older adults with previous falls.
Join a Research Study
The goal of the study is to determine whether the senolytic medications Dasatinib and Quercetin can reduce senescent cells, increase mobility (walking speed), and improve memory in older adults.
The goal of this study is to learn about the relationship between antioxidants (commonly found in blueberries) and motivation to exercise. Researchers think that supplementing one's diet with antioxidants on a daily basis may be a practical way to reduce inflammation and improve lack of motivation to exercise.
Berries and Steps Study Faculty
The goal is to determine whether non-invasive brain stimulation improves balance and walking.