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Falls risk higher for women, multitaskers

May 31, 2016
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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Women tend to be good multitaskers, but that skill may lead to more falls in older years than their male counterparts, notes a new cohort study published in JAMDA, The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

The study, which tracked nearly 1,400 70-year-old adults, measured gait patterns and noted the changes in gait as the participants walked at different speeds and while doing other tasks. After accounting for physical activity levels and seven different gait parameters, women showed higher fall rates and greater gait changes than men—especially when performing other tasks while walking.

The study revealed clear gait changes as a precursor to falls risk: gait patterns changed 20-40 percent in those who reported falling, and 15-35 percent increased variability in those engaged in the dual task of walking while counting backwards from 100.

The research was conducted as part of the Healthy Ageing Initiative at Umeå University, Sweden.

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