The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation's largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — has chosen Jeffrey M. Hausdorff, PhD, of the Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel-Aviv University, and Harvard Medical School as the 2013 recipient of the Excellence in Rehabilitation of Aging Persons Award.
This distinguished honor is given annually to acknowledge outstanding contributions in the field of rehabilitation. The awardee's work may be in the areas of teaching or patient care, or publications that may include scholarly works, books, monographs, administrative directives, or public policy papers.
The award presentation will take place at GSA's 66th Annual Scientific Meeting, which will be held from November 20 to 24 in New Orleans. This conference is organized to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers, educators, and practitioners who specialize in the study of the aging process. Visit http://www.geron.org/annualmeeting for further details.
Hausdorff is the director of the Laboratory for Gait & Neurodynamics at the Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center; a full professor in the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel-Aviv University, and a lecturer in medicine at Harvard Medical School.
As a biomedical researcher working in movement disorders, aging, biomechanics, and related areas, he has made important contributions in the fields of rehabilitation of aging persons, neuroscience, and biomedical engineering with his seminal studies on human gait. He invented a novel system for long-term measurement and investigation of the temporal parameters of gait and applied it in pioneering studies on the stride-to-stride fluctuations of walking. His studies on gait variability, the fractal properties of gait, asymmetry, and motor-cognitive interactions have had a profound impact on the understanding and quantification of human locomotion, the assessment and prediction of fall risk, and the mechanisms underlying changes in walking with aging and common pathologies like Parkinson's disease.
Building on the links that they found between walking, thinking, and falling, Hausdorff and his colleagues also developed novel approaches to the rehabilitation of gait and the reduction of fall risk. For example, they examined the effects of an attention-enhancing drug on gait in older adults with a high risk of falling and developed a multi-modal treadmill training program that is augmented by virtual reality. The treadmill training addresses issues related to usual-walking; the virtual reality environment implicitly teaches subjects to better negotiate obstacles, plan ahead, perform visual scanning, and dual-task, all done while walking at the same time. In several pilot studies, usual-walking and dual-task gait speed significantly improved after six weeks of training, as did gait variability, and the ability to negotiate obstacles in the real world. Intriguingly, cognitive tests of executive control also improved in response to this unique training paradigm. These findings further highlight the fascinating mechanisms connecting gait, cognitive function, fall risk and the potential plasticity of the aging brain and body.
The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,400+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA's structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.
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