Students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program got the chance to see how a person’s body ages and the movement ramifications of those, thanks to AGNES (Age Gain Now Empathy Suit) from MIT’s AGE Lab.
The suit, used during a recent class taught by Dr. Rania Karim and Dr. Maninder Kaur, both of whom are assistant professors of physical therapy, was used to mimic anatomical changes that occur as people age, providing insights that encourage understanding between generations and inspire better design of products, services, and systems to improve the lives of older adults.
Sophia Ashebir, Alexa Balmuth, and Taylor Patskanick from MIT brought the suit to campus.
The class, held in the IHP’s Sanders IMPACT Practice Center, went this way: For each activity, a student donned the suit – which included goggles, a helmet, neck brace, gloves, elbow, wrist, and knee braces, and foam shoes – and performed activities such as walking, running, sitting, and doing a single-leg stand. They then brainstormed with IHP lab instructors Caitlin Geary, Amber LaMarca, and Anna Sanchez Junkin on what they felt the suit mimicked (is it normal, or pathological) and, if pathological, what pathologies it may have caused or exacerbated.
“This session is a great combination of fun and informative information, thanks to our collaboration with the Age Lab,” said Karim. “The students always walk away with a new perspective on aging.”