The day I turned 60, I hiked up to a place in Yosemite called Cloud’s Rest. It’s nearly 10,000 feet tall, with some very big boulders to boot. I was grateful that all that time I spent in the gym and on local trails prepared me for the 15 miles I trod that day. My aging feet were safely supported in well-cushioned hiking boots.
Back in the real world, professional attire does not allow comfy hiking boots to substitute for the youthful fatty padding my vintage bones have lost through nature’s wear and tear. When I read recently about some new, biomechanically-engineered, arthritis-assuaging shoes designed by Tom Andriacchi, PhD, at Stanford’s BioMotion Lab – and available at retail stores – I stood up and cheered. Another option to maintain my mobility!
Andriacchi, a world-class expert on gait and osteoarthritis, was persuaded by Laura Carstensen, PhD, founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, to apply his knowledge and creativity to the challenge of therapeutic footwear. She saw the opportunity to break out of the classic thinktank syndrome with a breakthrough bench-to-bedside project. She explains:
This is the poster child for us. There are an awful lot of important ideas that academics generate and then sit back and hope someone adopts. Most researchers are not trained to move ideas past the conceptual stage. What we do at the center is to show how and where those ideas can be useful. We help to move practical ideas, based on science, forward to a place where they can positively affect peoples’ lives.
On behalf of my age group and up, I am grateful for that thought.