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Now that science and technology have contributed to our living longer, the world's population is aging dramatically. The oldest people - those over age 80 - represent the greatest challenge in providing health-related services and identifying ways to assist them in maintaining independence. The US National Institutes on Health's National Center on medical rehabilitation research studies mechanisms, modalities, and devices that improve, restore, or replace lost, underdeveloped, or deteriorating function. The NCMRR's model for viewing research and development in technology and aging comprises five levels of intervention (or research and development) with each level focusing on a different area. The cellular level focuses on pathophysiology, the organ level on impairment, the action level on functional limitation, the task-role level on disability, and the social-limitations level on barriers resulting from attitudes and policies.