Gait and Balance Deficits in Chronic Alcoholics: No Improvement from 10 Weeks Through 1 Year Abstinence
Article first published online: 12 JUN 2012
Copyright © 2012 by the Research Society on Alcoholism
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 37, Issue 1, pages 86–95, January 2013
How to Cite
Fein, G. and Greenstein, D. (2013), Gait and Balance Deficits in Chronic Alcoholics: No Improvement from 10 Weeks Through 1 Year Abstinence. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37: 86–95. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2012.01851.x
- Issue published online: 4 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 12 JUN 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 3 APR 2012
- Manuscript Received: 23 JAN 2012
- National Institutes for Health. Grant Numbers: #AA016944, #AA016944
- Gait and Balance;
Disturbed gait and balance are common and important sequelae of chronic alcoholism. We present longitudinal data on recovery of gait and balance in alcoholics 6 to 15 weeks abstinent at baseline assessment through follow-up assessment 4 to 16 months after baseline.
We performed a follow-up assessment (4 to 16 months after baseline) of gait and balance functioning in 37 short-term (6 to 15 weeks) abstinent alcoholics (STAA), 25 of whom remained abstinent through the follow-up period. Fourteen non-substance-abusing controls (NSAC) were also brought back for a follow-up assessment to examine practice effects.
Alcoholics showed gait and balance impairment versus controls at both the initial and follow-up assessments, showing no improvement in gait and balance measures over the follow-up period. At follow-up, NSAC showed improvement on the Walk on Floor eyes closed measure, possibly representing a practice effect not present in STAA.
This study finds no improvement from about 10 weeks to about 1 year of abstinence in chronic alcoholics. The study is silent with regard to gait and balance recovery that occurs prior to 10 weeks abstinence, and after the first year of abstinence. Other studies suggest some recovery of gait and balance prior to 10 weeks abstinence, and our recent cross-sectional study (Smith and Fein, 2011, Alcohol Clin Exp Res 35:2184–2192) suggests that significant additional recovery occurs in the ensuing years.