Date of Award

Spring 2-19-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

PhD Health Sciences

Department

Health and Medical Sciences

Advisor

Genevieve Pinto-Zipp, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Ning Zhang, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Fortunato Battaglia, Ph.D.

Keywords

Dual task, Elderly, Task demands, Cognitive task, Motor task, Gait parameters, Falling

Abstract

The percentage of the senior citizens is expected to be 20% of the US population by 2030. Falls are considered a global problem due to the increased rate of falls and the costs associated with treating impairments resulting from falls. To date, the effects of performing different types of dual tasks among different age groups of the elderly has received less attention. Therefore, this study sought to assess the impact on spatiotemporal parameters of gait when differing age groups of older adults performer dual tasks that require differing motor and cognitive demands.

Three standard measurements were used in this study: (a) the Mini Mental State Examination, (b) Dynamic Gait Index, and (c) The Time Up and Go test. Thirty-one participants walked on (GAITRite) and randomly performed a total of three trials for each of the four tasks: (a) walking, (b) walking while calculating, (c) walking while stepping over an obstacle, and (d) walking while talking. The spatiotemporal parameters of gait — velocity, cadence, stride length, and double supports —were analyzed by using a mixed design analysis of variance (ANOVA). Furthermore, if the main effect within participants was significant, a pairwise comparison (Bonferroni correction) was used to determine where the difference lied.

The results of this study showed a significant difference in the main effect for the age classification of stride length of the left leg. Furthermore, there were significant differences in the main effect for the single task and dual tasking of velocity, cadence, double support for left and right legs, and stride length for left and right leg. Additionally, there were significant differences in the main effect for the dual tasking of velocity, cadence, double support for left and right legs, and stride length for left and right leg.

The observations showed that the elderly decreased velocity, cadence, and stride length while increasing double support when the complexity of dual tasking increased, in order to provide more stability. Additionally, this study made the elderly concentrate on their balance rather than on the task itself. Therefore, it is important that employees in senior housing be aware of this study when giving instructions to elderly people while they are walking, because the elderly will either concentrate on their walking or ignore the instructions, or they will follow the instructions and increase their rates of falling.

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