Relationship between balance and dual task walking in the very elderly

Juliana Hotta Ansai, Thais Rabiatti Aurichio, José Rubens Rebelatto
Geriatrics & Gerontology International 2016, 16 (1): 89-94

AIM: To investigate the relationship between balance and dual task performance in adults aged over 80 years, and to analyze possible differences between fallers and non-fallers in dual task performance.

METHODS: An observational cross-sectional study was carried out at the Federal University of São Carlos (Brazil). We assessed 67 community-dwelling older adults aged over 80 years who were able to walk. The volunteers were divided into groups of fallers and non-fallers. The one-leg standing and tandem tests were used to assess balance. Dual task was assessed by the Timed Up and Go test, associated with a motor task (TUGT-motor) and a cognitive task (TUGT-cognitive). Statistical analyses were carried out, and the significance level was set at α = 5%.

RESULTS: Significant correlations were found between balance and dual task variables. Fallers took significantly more time and steps on both the TUGT-motor and the TUGT-cognitive, with no significant differences on balance tests between groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Recognizing the influence of dual task walking on balance and fall risk could help health professionals to prevent falls in older adults, as well as optimize assessment and intervention planning.

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