Background and purpose: Older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at risk for physical and cognitive impairment. Cognitive function is associated with falls in older adults. However, it is unknown whether a relationship exists between cognitive function and falls in patients with COPD. The aim of this study was to examine the relationships between cognitive function, balance, and gait speed in older adults with COPD.
Patients and methods: A secondary analysis was performed using data from the 2010 wave of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Cognitive (immediate and delayed recall, executive function) and physical (gait speed, tandem balance time) measure data were extracted for older adults with COPD (n = 382) and an age-matched control group without COPD (n = 382) who met inclusion/exclusion criteria. Multivariate linear regression modeling was performed to examine associations between cognitive function and mobility or balance while controlling for age, gender, body mass index, grip strength, and education.
Results: In older adults with COPD, delayed recall was significantly associated with tandem balance performance (β= 1.42, P < .05). Other cognitive measures were not associated with gait speed or balance.
Conclusion: In older adults with COPD, one of four cognitive functions was associated with a static standing balance task. Screening of cognitive function, specifically delayed recall, should be a part of the management of falls in this population.
Copyright © 2021 APTA Geriatrics, An Academy of the American Physical Therapy Association.