Age-associated effects of a concurrent cognitive task on gait speed and stability during narrow-base walking

Valerie E. Kelly, Matthew A. Schrager, Robert Price, Luigi Ferrucci, Anne Shumway-Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. In older adults, changes in speed and stability during walking are associated with impaired balance and increased fall risk. Narrow-base walking requires increased frontal plane stability and can be used to assess postural control while walking. Performance of a concurrent cognitive task (dual task) may further increase the complexity of walking, potentially allowing identification of individuals with instability that is not detected under single-task conditions. The purpose of this study was to examine age-associated effects of a cognitive task on speed and frontal plane stability during narrow-base walking. Methods. Thirty-four healthy adults participated, categorized by age: .450). Conclusions. Age-associated changes in both speed and stability are observed during narrow-base walking. Among this sample of healthy older adults, the addition of a concurrent cognitive task resulted in reduced speed, with no effect on frontal plane stability. Further research is needed to determine if dual-task, narrow-base walking is a sensitive and specific approach to identifying older adults at risk for falls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1329-1334
Number of pages6
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Dual task
  • Falls
  • Frontal plane stability
  • Gait

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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