Motor versus cognitive dual-task effects on obstacle negotiation in older adults

Plummer-D'Amato, Prudence; Shea, Gillian; Dowd, Colleen
April 2012
International Journal of Therapy & Rehabilitation;Apr2012, Vol. 19 Issue 4, p200
Academic Journal
Aim: The primary aim of this study was to compare the effects of motor and cognitive dual-tasks on obstacle negotiation in older adults. Methods: Seventeen community-dwelling older adults (76.7 years, SD 5.6) were timed to perform an obstacle negotiation task under single-task and three dual-task conditions (coin transfer, spontaneous speech, alphabet recitation). Findings: Participants made few obstacle contacts, but slowed significantly during the coin transfer task compared to all other conditions. Participants who appeared to prioritize the coin transfer task during obstacle negotiation had higher ratings of balance confidence, suggesting that older adults with greater balance confidence may be more likely to shift attention away from gait when performing an upper extremity motor task during walking. Conclusions: A simultaneous upper extremity motor task had a greater effect than spontaneous speech or alphabet recitation on timed obstacle negotiation in healthy older adults.


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