The Effects of Different Types of Dual Tasking on Balance in Healthy Older Adults

J Pers Med. 2021 Sep 18;11(9):933. doi: 10.3390/jpm11090933.


Numerous of our daily activities are performed within multitask or dual task conditions. These conditions involve the interaction of perceptual and motor processes involved in postural control. Age-related changes may negatively impact cognition and balance control. Studies identifying changes related to dual-task actions in older people are need. This study aimed to determine the effects of different types of dual-tasking on the balance control of healthy older adults. The sample included 36 community-living older adults, performing two tests-a sway test and a timed up-and-go test-in three conditions: (a) single motor task; (b) dual motor task; and (c) dual motor task with cognitive demands. Cognitive processes (dual-task and cognition) affected static balance, increasing amplitude (p < 0.001) and frequency (p < 0.001) of the center of mass displacements. Dynamic balance revealed significant differences between the single motor condition and the other two conditions during gait phases (p < 0.001). The effect of dual-tasking in older adults suggests that cognitive processes are a main cause of increased variability in balance and gait when under an automatic control. During sit-to-stand, turning, and turn-to-sit movements under dual-tasking, the perceptive information becomes the most important focus of attention, while any cognitive task becomes secondary.

Keywords: cognitive function; dual-tasking; older adults; postural control.