Developing healthy activities for older adults and people with mobility challenges is the focus of research for Nancy Mayo and her team

For the last ten years, Nancy Mayo, PhD, has been conducting research to find safe and healthy ways to keep people moving. Focused on older adults and people with mobility challenges, Professor Mayo works with her team at the McGill School of Physical and Occupational Therapy and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI‑MUHC) on a variety of projects to help people move better, and move more.

On November 1, 2023, Professor Mayo was proud to showcase the new Walk-BEST™ Chair, installed at Le Cambridge, an independent living facility for seniors in Pointe Claire. An invention of Professor Mayo and a team of physiotherapists, the Walk-BEST chair is an outdoor exercise platform facilitating the needs of older people and people with mobility challenges so they can enjoy outdoor exercise safely and effectively. Resembling a large chair, the structure is designed to allow people of different abilities to perform exercises that target the muscles, joints and movements needed for a safe and strong walking pattern. The bars provide handholds so that exercises can be done securely, while the steps allow people to safely practice stair climbing.

Nancy Mayo installs the first Walk-BEST chair in Pointe Claire, QC. Professor Mayo is a senior scientist in the Brain Repair and Integrative Neuroscience (BRaIN) Program and a member of the Centre for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at the RI-MUHC. (Photo credits: Nancy Mayo, Owen Egan and Joni Dufour)

“I’m very proud of my team and all the work they’ve done that’s culminated in the installation of the Walk-BEST chair,” says Prof. Mayo. “It’s been a real privilege for us to work on this project, and we are looking forward to developing additional interventions that will help improve outcomes and quality of life for seniors and people with mobility challenges.”

Walk-BEST™ is a program of technologies and workshops enabling people to walk BEtter, faster, longer, STronger (BEST). Prof. Mayo is implementing these technologies through a company she co-founded, PhysioBiometrics Inc. This startup is dedicated to improving health through accessible technologies that help people be active, safe, and independent. In 2020, PhysioBiometrics won the McGill Dobson Cup – Health Sciences Track, for a wearable technology called Heel2ToeTM, designed to improve gait pattern. PhysioBiometrics also won, in 2022, the highest award from McGill Innovation Fund for the project “PhysioBiometrics Inc. Moving Better to Move More”.

The Walk-BEST™ Chair is accompanied by a guidebook, “50 Exercises You Can Do on a Chair©” with the exercises targeting the multitude of elements needed to Walk-BEST™.

The researchers are grateful for funding from AGEWELL and for the engineering expertise of Dimartech Industries, the Montreal steel manufacturing company involved in manufacturing the Walk-BEST™ Chair.