Dual-task tests can identify gait characteristics peculiar to fallers and nonfallers. Understanding the relationship between gait performance and dual-task related cognitive-motor interference is important for fall prevention. Dual-task adapted changes in gait instability/variability can adversely affect fall risks. Although implicated, it is unclear if healthy participants’ fall risks aremodified by dual-task walking conditions. Seven healthy young and seven healthy older adults were randomly assigned to normal walking and dual-task walking sessions with a slip perturbation. In the dual-task session, the participants walked and simultaneously counted backwards from a randomly provided number. The results indicate that the gait changes in dual-task walking have no destabilizing effect on gait and slip responses in healthy individuals.We also found that, during dual-tasking, healthy individuals adopted cautious gait mode (CGM) strategy that is characterized by reduced walking speed, shorter step length, increased step width, and reduced heel contact velocity and is likely to be an adaptation to minimize attentional demand and decrease slip and fall risk during limited available attentional resources. Exploring interactions between gait variability and cognitive functions while walking may lead to designing appropriate fall interventions among healthy and patient population with fall risk.
Soangra R, Lockhart TE. Dual-task does not increase slip and fall risk in healthy young and older adults during walking. Appl Bionics Biomech. 2017:1014784. doi:10.1155/2017/1014784
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