Dual-tasking effects on gait variability: The role of aging, falls, and executive function

Authors

  • Shmuel Springer MSPT,

    1. Movement Disorders Unit, Neurology Department, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel-Aviv, Israel
    2. Department of Physical Therapy, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
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  • Nir Giladi MD,

    1. Movement Disorders Unit, Neurology Department, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel-Aviv, Israel
    2. Department of Physical Therapy, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
    3. Department of Neurology, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
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  • Chava Peretz PhD,

    1. Movement Disorders Unit, Neurology Department, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel-Aviv, Israel
    2. Department of Physical Therapy, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
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  • Galit Yogev MSPT,

    1. Movement Disorders Unit, Neurology Department, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel-Aviv, Israel
    2. Department of Physical Therapy, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
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  • Ely S. Simon MD,

    1. Department of Clinical Science, Neurotrax Corp., New York, New York, USA
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  • Jeffrey M. Hausdorff PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Movement Disorders Unit, Neurology Department, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel-Aviv, Israel
    2. Department of Physical Therapy, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
    3. Division on Aging, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Laboratory for Gait Analysis and Neurodynamics, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, 6 Weizman Street, Tel-Aviv 64239, Israel

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  • Presented in part at the annual meetings of the American Geriatrics Society, May 2004, and the Movement Disorders Society, July 2004.

Abstract

The objectives of the present study were to test the hypothesis that the dual-tasking effect on gait variability is larger in healthy older adults than it is in healthy young adults; that this effect is larger in idiopathic elderly fallers than it is in healthy older adults; and that the dual-tasking effects on gait variability are correlated with executive function (EF). Young adults and older adults who were classified as fallers and nonfallers were studied. Gait speed, swing time, and swing time variability, a marker of fall risk, were measured during usual walking and during three different dual-tasking conditions. EF and memory were evaluated. When performing dual tasks, all three groups significantly decreased their gait speed. Dual tasking did not affect swing time variability in the young adults and in the nonfallers. Conversely, dual tasking markedly increased swing time variability in the fallers. While memory was similar in fallers and nonfallers, EF was different. The faller-specific response to dual tasking was significantly correlated with tests of EF. These findings demonstrate that dual tasking does not affect the gait variability of elderly nonfallers or young adults. In contrast, dual tasking destabilizes the gait of idiopathic elderly fallers, an effect that appears to be mediated in part by a decline in EF. © 2006 Movement Disorder Society

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