A central focus of my research is community mobility. Community mobility refers to an individual’s ability to get to medical appointments, travel to grocery stores, visit friends and family, and attend community events. Community mobility is essential for daily living and a determinant of full citizenry and good health for older people. Using a critical perspective, my work prioritizes the often neglected social, cultural and environmental factors implicated in community mobility such as social identity, stigma and social engagement (Gardner, 2014). A major contribution of this program of research is the concept of ‘mobility aid personalization’ (MAPx). The MAPx research examines the process of personalizing a mobility device to meet individual needs and preferences, contributing “new” insights into some “old” (i.e., ongoing) problems in public health including falls, inactivity and social isolation. The unique contribution that this reframing of our understanding and assumptions about community mobility makes has been recognized; a reviewer of the MAPx manuscript (Gardner, 2016) remarked in their response - “This is an excellent paper… puts a different spin on the meaning of function in the rehabilitation literature…” My program of research on community mobility has also been acknowledged and supported through a Planning and Dissemination Grant from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR, 2016).
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