Background The difficulties of elderly in performing two different tasks have been well documented (1). It has been reported that aging is associated with a decline in attention abilities and dual-task performances. Improving the ability to perform two different tasks simultaneously could therefore have significant impacts in the prevention of adverse outcomes associated with aging (2).
Objectives Regarding specific dual-task training, recent studies have demonstrated its efficacy in various populations such as the elderly and individuals with neurological diseases, with the most notable improvements in gait. However, there is no evidence in the literature on the effects of this training on balance and clinical outcomes evaluated independently among elderly. Thus, considering the positive results of specific dual-task training obtained in other populations, we conducted a randomized trial to study the efficacy of an eight – week dual-task training program adjunct to conventional physiotherapy compared to a conventional physiotherapy program on balance, mobility, functional independence, fear of falling, functional capacity in elder individuals.
We hypothesized that, dual-task training is more effective at improving balance and clinical outcomes than conventional physiotherapy in elder individuals.
Methods Fifty-five elderly were participated in our study. Balance, mobility, functional independence, fear of falling was measured with Berg Balance Scale, Rivermead Mobility Index, Functional Independence Measurement, and Fall Efficacy Scale-International, respectively. Functional capacity was assessed with Timed Up&Go, Chair Sit&Stand. Cases were divided into two different groups. Conventional Physiotherapy was applied in control group, and besides the same protocol, dual–task training was applied 5 days for 8 weeks in the intervention group. The dual–task training consisting of the cognitive activities included digit span, spelling words, stroop test, image description, counting, description of daily activities and routines was applied during the gait exercises. All of the assessments procedures were performed again after the treatment.
Results There were statistically significant improvements in measures of balance, mobility, functional independence, fear of falling, and functional capacity between pre- and post – treatment in both groups (p<0.05). A significant difference was found in balance and mobility in favour of the intervention group (p=0.028).
Conclusions Based on our findings, we found that dual–task training applied as an adjunct to conventional physiotherapy was superior to conventional physiotherapy on balance and mobility parameters. From this point of view, dual-task training should be considered as part of the rehabilitation process of elderly, although until now no guidelines have been defined for this type of intervention.
Bherer L, Kramer AF, Peterson MS, Colcombe S, Erickson K, Becic E. Transfer effects in task-set cost and dual-task cost after dual-task training in older and younger adults: further evidence for cognitive plasticity in attentional control in late adulthood. Exp Aging Res. 2008 Jul-Sep;34(3):188–219.
Lussier M, Gagnon C, Bherer L. An investigation of response and stimulus modality transfer effects after dual-task training in younger and older. Front Hum Neurosci. 2012 May 18;6:129.
Disclosure of Interest None declared