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Community-dwelling older adults with mild cognitive impairments show subtle visual attention costs when descending stairs.

Charette, C, Blanchet, S, Maganaris, CN, Baltzopoulos, V and McFadyen, BJ (2019) Community-dwelling older adults with mild cognitive impairments show subtle visual attention costs when descending stairs. Human Movement Science, 69. ISSN 0167-9457

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BACKGROUND: Older adults are at greater risk of falls while descending stairs. Cognitive deficits can further influence one's ability and mild cognitive impairments (MCI) specifically affect visual attention and dual tasking behavior. The present study aimed at comparing the attentional costs at different points during the approach to and descent of a staircase between older adults with and without MCI. METHODS: Eleven older adults with MCI and twenty-three healthy older individuals without cognitive impairments were recruited. Neuropsychological tests were carried out. In addition, participants approached and descended a 5-step staircase while a simultaneous visual Stroop dual-task was randomly introduced during the approach, transition or steady state descent phases across trials. Three-dimensional kinematics and accuracy on the Stroop task were analyzed and dual task costs were calculated. RESULTS: The MCI group showed deficits for visuo-spatial attention, memory and multi-tasking abilities, as well as balance and decreased confidence for falls efficacy, but not for daily activity scores. Despite such changes, this group of community-dwelling individuals with MCI presented a functional capacity to descend stairs even during divided visual attention. However, there were subtle, but significant, group differences for movement fluidity and performance on the simultaneous cognitive task, particularly during the approach and transition to descent phases. The MCI group also tended to descend slower while using the handrails more than healthy older adults. CONCLUSION: The present cohort of community-dwelling older adults with MCI were functional, but appeared to prioritize locomotor demands over the simultaneous cognitive task in a possible "posture first" strategy to descend stairs. The present findings should be considered for developing more ecologically based clinical assessments of mobility deficits following cognitive impairments, with the approach and transition phases during stair descent as key points of focus.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 09 Engineering, 11 Medical and Health Sciences, 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > QM Human anatomy
Q Science > QP Physiology
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2020 10:59
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 07:58
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.humov.2019.102561
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12187
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