The ankle weights made the students’ legs heavy. The wrist weights made lifting their arms difficult, and navigating while seated in a wheelchair was almost impossible. Add a pair of glasses designed to simulate the effects of visual impairment and a thick foam neck brace that limited mobility, and suddenly, the participants realized how many seniors feel on a daily basis.
The Long Beach State University students and faculty who stopped by the Aging Simulation demonstration during last week’s Health and Tech Day learned, some the hard way, what they can do now to combat the effects of aging.
The demonstrations were among many activities the campus’ Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offered during Health and Technology Day. The free event was designed to prepare students to live and work in an increasingly technological world.
Participants were invited to immerse themselves in health and tech experiences, such as virtual reality, accelerometer-based sleep trackers and age-obstruction glasses.
The day-long event also featured speakers, panels and informational interview with experts and employers in the field.
“Doing tasks, such as picking something up off the floor, is super easy right now, but later on, when you’re older it could be difficult,” said Sofia Hodjat, a master’s student in gerontology. Hodjat, who works at a senior recreation facility, watches seniors struggle with simple tasks on a daily basis.
As part of her training, she put on gloves that reduced sensitivity and a pair of obstruction glasses that reduced her vision, then tried to shuffle a deck of cards.
“Just opening the deck of cards was so difficult. I was like, ‘What’s the sense? I might as well not even play.’ It was no longer enjoyable, it was no longer fun,” Hodjat said.
“That just showed some of the barriers of working with older adults.”
Biomedical engineering student Lucas Maxfield stopped by the VR Demonstration and experienced a surgeon preparing a patient for surgery through virtual reality goggles.
“It was interesting,” Maxfield said. “You could see how VR has a high potential for training surgeons, doctors and engineers.”
Others who took part in the VR demo could view how drugs move through the body, experience living with dementia and contemplate end-of-life scenarios.
The event offered seminars and talks on other subjects, such as the Business of Virtual Care, Making Healthcare More Human, Mindfulness and Tech and Emerging Health and Tech Entrepreneurs.