Fear of falling is associated with prolonged anticipatory postural adjustment during gait initiation under dual-task conditions in older adults

Kazuki Uemura, Minoru Yamada, Koutatsu Nagai, Buichi Tanaka, Shuhei Mori, Noriaki Ichihashi
Gait & Posture 2012, 35 (2): 282-6
Little is known about dynamic balance control under dual-task conditions in older adults with fear of falling (FoF). The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of FoF on anticipatory postural adjustment (APA) during gait initiation under dual-task conditions in older adults. Fifty-seven elderly volunteers (age, 79.2 [6.8] years) from the community participated in this study. Each participant was categorised into either the Fear (n=24) or No-fear (n=33) group on the basis of the presence or absence of FoF. Under single- and dual-task conditions, centre of pressure (COP) data were collected while the participants performed gait initiation trials from a starting position on a force platform. We also performed a 10-m walking test (WT), a timed up & go test (TUG), and a functional reach test (FR). The reaction and APA phases were measured from the COP data. The results showed that under the dual-task condition, the Fear group had significantly longer APA phases than the No-fear group, although no significant differences were observed between the 2 groups in the reaction and APA phases under the single-task condition and in any clinical measurements (WT, TUG, and FR). Our findings suggest that specific deficits in balance control occur in subjects with FoF during gait initiation while dual tasking, even if their physical functions are comparable to subjects without FoF.

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