By Bob Shepard
In our increasingly mobile society, the fastest-growing segment of the population is also the slowest moving: Over the next few decades, the number of people in the United States over age 65 will double. But a major UAB study has demonstrated that mobility is just as important to older Americans as it is to their younger counterparts. In fact, for the elderly, the ability to keep moving can mean the difference between life and death.
The UAB Study of Aging enrolled a thousand people in five central Alabama counties and followed them for eight years. Over that time, participants who frequently ventured out beyond their homes, without assistance from equipment or another person, were far more likely to remain healthy and independent than those who stayed at home or left only with assistance, says Richard Allman, M.D., principal investigator of the Study of Aging and director of the Birmingham/Atlanta VA Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center and the UAB Center for Aging.
Allman compares the Study of Aging to the famous Framingham Heart Study, which began in 1948 and has provided much of the now common knowledge on the effects of diet, exercise, and medications on heart disease. In the same way, Allman says, UAB's study is “providing the knowledge that will be needed to develop and validate a whole host of possible interventions aimed at giving our aging population a better quality of life.”
Linking Students to Opportunities in Asia
By Andrew Hayenga
In any business venture, it helps to have friends in the right places. For UAB students eager to explore the booming economic possibilities in China, one name opens many doors: K.C. Pang.
A veteran of the international business scene, Pang has held executive positions with the World Development Federation, FedEx, and Holiday Inn. He has been a faculty member in the UAB School of Business since 2003, teaching courses in international business and international marketing, and serving as Director of China Initiatives for the school and advisor for the university’s International Business Association.
Any discussion of global commerce must focus heavily on China, Pang says. The country’s international business impact grows each year and now “accounts for more than $1 billion in annual trade with the state of Alabama alone,” he notes. “If business graduates are going to get ahead in Alabama or anywhere, they need to be exposed to the Chinese economy.”
Examining the Benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy
By Grant Martin
Mia enjoys a visit to the Bell Center, where she visits each week to work with children suffering from cerebral palsy.
Mia Rowe is a master motivator. Even though she’s only five years old—and her conversation is limited to barks and licks—Mia has a gift for encouragement that transcends age and language. In her presence, physically challenged toddlers forget their pain and start to run, while shy readers learn to speak out and enjoy a good book.
Mia and her sister Stella are Cavalier King Charles spaniels belonging to Jan Rowe, Dr.O.T., an associate professor of occupational therapy in the UAB School of Health Professions. Together, the three volunteer through Hand-in-Paw, a Birmingham affiliate of the Delta Society, which is the leading international resource for animal-assisted therapy and activities.
“Most people are familiar with service animals and the types of assistance that they can provide, but there are many other ways that animals assist in therapy,” Rowe says. “Animals can get through to people when other methods have failed.”
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