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Multitasking Adversely Affects Older Below-knee Amputees

Researchers found that gait and cognitive
performance in older people with below-knee amputations were adversely
impacted during dual-task gait testing. Velocity, cadence, stride time,
and symmetry were compromised during the testing. Because many daily
activities require the multitasking of motor and cognitive tasks, the
research team used the dual-task paradigm to evaluate the participants
performance on mobility and cognitive tasks.

Study participants
included 15 men and nine women with below-knee amputations and a mean
age of 62.72 years (±8.59 years). Each participant was tested while
walking on an electronic walkway at a self-selected comfortable pace and
while walking on an electronic walkway at a self-selected comfortable
pace while counting backwards by threes from a number randomly selected
between 100 and 150. Cognitive performance, in the form of corrected
response rate, was also evaluated as a single task.

The dual-task
testing produced poorer performance in velocity (single task = 58.15
?±?23.16cm/s; dual task = 50.92? ± 21.16cm/s), cadence (single task =
76.65 ?±15.84 steps/min; dual task = 67.85 ?±?15.76 steps/min) and
stride time (single task =1,094? ±458.28ms; dual task?=?1,241.44
±513.73ms).

Step length, stance time, and single-limb support
time symmetry were also affected, such that less time was spent on the
amputated limb during the dual-task testing, according to the authors.

The
researchers suggest further study to evaluate the change in
cognition-mobility effects over time and the relationship to events such
as falls, community ambulation, and reintegration.

The study was published online February 13 in Gait and Posture.

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