Understanding the assistive technology needs of people with mobility disabilities

A team of researchers at University of Wollongong (UOW) is working to understand the mobility issues experienced by people over the age of 55 who are not being adequately supported by existing assistive mobility aids.

WheelchairThe long-term goal of the ‘Enabilise’ project is to help develop new assistive mobility aids that respond to actual lived experiences. Outcomes from the research will help identify mobility issues and current constraints of mobility aids. The findings will help inform subsequent stages of the project, which aims to create opportunities for new types of personally assistive technology, as well as develop and trial new prototypes.

Enabilise is a truly collaborative research project funded by Global Challenges under its portfolio of Living Well, Longer. It brings different disciplines at the University together with AusIndustry, Aged and Community Services NSW/ACT and the Illawarra Forum Inc.

The project is led by Leanne Taylor, who works for AusIndustry’s Entrepreneur Programme as the Innovation Facilitator for the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions of NSW.

“The beauty of the Enabilise project is the collaborative partnerships and alliances that are forming to address current needs of over 55 with mobility issues. It also provides a forum for the region’s businesses and manufacturers to innovate solutions that meet real needs,” she said.

Mark Sewell, Director & the Illawarra Regional Chair of Aged and Community Services NSW/ACT and CEO of Warrigal, said: “the project looks directly at the needs of those people most likely to benefit from the development in the area of assistive mobility aids. We are really enthusiastic about the potential impact it can have on people’s lives.”

The project will run focus groups with local allied health professionals, managers of aged care and disability services, manufacturers and distributors of mobility aids, paid carers, as well as people over 55 and their unpaid carers.

The project is currently seeking participation from individuals over 55 with a mobility disability and/or their carers. Participants are asked to partake in a 1.5hour focus group to be held in Dapto, Wollongong or Thirroul. For more information, visit globalchallenges.uow.edu.au, elizad@uow.edu.au or +61 2 4239 2238.

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