Background and Purpose: Daily activities require the ability to dual task (DT), utilizing cognitive resources while walking to negotiate complex environmental conditions. For older adults, these additional cognitive demands often lead to reduced gait quality that increases the risk of falls. The aim of this study was to assess whether a combined intervention, consisting of treadmill training (TT) while performing DT, improves cognitive and motor performance in older adults with a history of multiple falls.
Methods: A repeated measures design was used to evaluate the effects of training in 10 elderly fallers (mean age, 78.1 ± 5.81 y, 7 women). The progressive intensive training sessions included walking on a treadmill while practicing a variety of dual tasks 3 times a week for more than 6weeks. Cognitive and motor measureswere used to assess the effects of the intervention immediately after training and 1 month posttraining.
Results: Improvements were observed in Berg Balance Scale (P = 0.02), Dynamic Gait Index (P = 0.03), gait speed during usual walking and while DT (P < 0.05), and cognitive performance as measured by the Trails Making Test B (P = 0.02). Furthermore, quality of life improved (SF-36: P=0.01) as did physical activity (Physical Activity Scale for Elderly: P = 0.02). At 1 month postintervention, changes were not significant.
Discussion and Conclusions: After 6 weeks of TT + DT program, elderly fallers demonstrated improved scores on tests of mobility, functional performance tasks, and cognition. Dual task training can be readily implemented by therapists as a component of a fall-risk reduction training program.
- Dual task
- Idiopathic fallers