Affiliations: [a] Department of Otorhinolaryngology –Head and Neck Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, KFUH, Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia
| [b] Department of Physiotherapy, Mercy University Hospital, Grenville Place, Cork, Ireland
| [c] Department of Physiotherapy, Croom Hospital, Corrabul, Croom, Co. Limerick, Ireland
| [d] Faculty of Brain Sciences, UCL Ear Institute, University College London, London, United Kingdom
| [e] Hearing and Deafness Biomedical Research Centre, National Institute for Health Research, London, United Kingdom
University College London Hospitals, London, United Kingdom
| [g] Centre for Human and Applied Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom
Corresponding author: Marie Kelly, Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, Mercy University Hospital, Grenville Place, Cork, Ireland. E-mail: [email protected].
Abstract: BACKGROUND:Functional mobility requires an ability to adapt to environmental factors together with an ability to execute a secondary task simultaneously while walking. A complex dual-tasking gait test may provide an indication of functional ability and falls risk among community-dwelling older adults. PURPOSE:The aim of this cross-sectional study is to investigate age-related differences in dual-tasking ability and to evaluate whether dual-tasking ability is related to executive function. METHODS:Forty-one community-dwelling healthy older and forty-one younger adults completed a dual-tasking assessment in which concurrent tasks were incorporated into the Functional Gait Assessment (FGA). The manual dual-task involved carrying a glass of water (FGA-M) while the cognitive dual-tasks involved numeracy (FGA-N) and literacy (FGA-L) related tasks. FGA scores under single (FGA-S) and dual-task conditions together with associated dual-task costs and response accuracy were determined. Executive function was assessed using The Behavioural Assessment of the Dysexecutive Syndrome (BADS). RESULTS:FGA-N and FGA-L scores were adversely affected in both groups compared to FGA-S (p≤0.001). However, score reductions and dual-task costs were significantly greater for older adults compared to younger adults on FGA-N (p≤0.05) and FGA-L (p≤0.001), with older adult performance on FGA-N associated with falls risk (p≤0.05). Executive function did not appear to be related to dual-tasking ability. CONCLUSION:Findings suggest that cognitively demanding tasks while walking, have a deleterious effect on dynamic balance and could place older adults at a greater risk of falls.
Keywords: Dual-task, dynamic balance, gait, aging, executive