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  1. Ihira, Hikaru PT, PhD
  2. Makizako, Hyuma PT, PhD
  3. Mizumoto, Atsushi PT
  4. Makino, Keitarou PT
  5. Matsuyama, Kiyoji MD, PhD
  6. Furuna, Taketo PT, PhD


Background and Purpose: In dual-task situations, postural control is closely associated with attentional cost. Previous studies have reported age-related differences between attentional cost and postural control, but little is known about the association in conditions with a one-legged standing posture. The purpose of this study was to determine age-related differences in postural control and attentional cost while performing tasks at various difficulty levels in a one-legged standing posture.


Methods: In total, 29 healthy older adults aged 64 to 78 years [15 males, 14 females, mean (SD) = 71.0 (3.8) years] and 29 healthy young adults aged 20 to 26 years [14 males, 15 females, mean (SD) = 22.5 (1.5) years] participated in this study. We measured the reaction time, trunk accelerations, and lower limb muscle activity under 3 different one-legged standing conditions-on a firm surface, on a soft surface with a urethane mat, and on a softer more unstable surface with 2 piled urethane mats. Reaction time as an indication of attentional cost was measured by pressing a handheld button as quickly as possible in response to an auditory stimulus. A 2-way repeated-measures analysis of variance was performed to examine the differences between the 3 task conditions and the 2 age groups for each outcome.


Results and Discussion: Trunk accelerations showed a statistically significant group-by-condition interaction in the anteroposterior (F = 9.1, P < .05), mediolateral (F = 9.9, P < .05), and vertical (F = 9.3, P < .05) directions. Muscle activity did not show a statistically significant group-by-condition interaction, but there was a significant main effect of condition in the tibialis anterior muscle (F = 33.1, P < .01) and medial gastrocnemius muscle (F = 14.7, P < .01) in young adults and the tibialis anterior muscle (F = 24.8, P < .01) and medial gastrocnemius muscle (F = 10.8, P < .01) in older adults. In addition, there was a statistically significant interaction in reaction time (F = 8.2, P < .05) for group-by-condition.


Conclusions: The study results confirmed that reaction times in older adults are more prolonged than young adults in the same challenging postural control condition.