Gait & posture

Balance and mobility training with or without concurrent cognitive training does not improve posture, but improves reaction time in healthy older adults.

PMID 27939652


The purpose was to determine whether balance and mobility training (BMT) or balance and mobility plus cognitive training (BMT+C) would reduce postural sway and reaction time (RT) and maintain these improvements after a 12-week follow-up in healthy older adults. Participants were allocated to the BMT (n=15; age: 70.2±3.2), BMT+C (n=14; age:68.7±5.5), or control group (n=13; age: 66.7±4.2). The BMT group trained one-on-one, 3×/wk for 12 weeks on a balance obstacle course. The BMT+C group trained one-on-one, 3×/week for 12 weeks on a balance obstacle course while completing cognitive tasks. Participants stood on a force plate for 30s in feet-apart (FA) and semi-tandem (ST) positions while completing simple RT and choice RT tasks at baseline, at the 12-week post-training, and at the 12-week follow-up. Participants were instructed to stand as still as possible while verbally responding as fast as possible to the auditory cues. No group differences in center of pressure (COP) Area, COP Velocity, or Sample Entropy of the COP displacement were shown after the training or 12-week follow-up, but the BMT and BMT+C showed faster RT after training and maintained these improvements at the 12-week follow-up compared to the control group. No differences in postural sway or RT emerged between the BMT and BMT+C groups. Both training groups improved RT after the interventions and sustained these improvements over 12 weeks, but showed no reductions in postural sway. Multi-task balance training likely results in reduced attention demand.