The Effects of a Divided-Attention Timed Stepping Accuracy Task on Balance, Strength, Endurance, and Functional Performance in Healthy Older Adults: A Pilot Study

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The aim of this study was to investigate whether a 6-week Divided-Attention Stepping Accuracy Task (DATSAT) intervention improved the primary outcome measure, maximal step length; other balance measures (Berg Balance scale and Timed Up and Go test); leg strength; endurance (6-min walk test); and functional tasks in 15 community-dwelling healthy older adults (x¯ age: 71.5 years, female: 46.7%) compared with 15 community-dwelling healthy older adults in a Bike and Strength (B&S) program (x¯ age: 73.8 years, female: 33.3%). Participants trained 3× per week, 30–60 min per session. Stepping-group differences were significant for all measures. B&S group improved in maximal step length (anterior and lateral), strength, and one functional task. Stepping group outperformed B&S group in Timed Up and Go and maximal step length posterior. B&S group outperformed stepping group in two strength measures. Exertion scores were lower for the stepping group. Overall, Divided-Attention Timed Stepping Accuracy Task training resulted in more within-group improvements and two between-group measures with less perceived effort and shorter intervention times.

Leach is with the Division of Physical Therapy, School of Medicine, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM. Maring and Costello are with the Physical Therapy Program, Department of Health, Human Function, and Rehabilitation Sciences, School of Medicine & Health Sciences, The George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Leach (sleach@salud.unm.edu) is corresponding author.
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