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Effects of dual tasks and dual-task training on postural stability: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Authors Ghai S, Ghai I, Effenberg AO

Received 20 October 2016

Accepted for publication 28 January 2017

Published 23 March 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 557—577

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S125201

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker


Shashank Ghai,1,2 Ishan Ghai,3 Alfred O Effenberg1

1Institute of Sports Science, Leibniz University, Hannover, Germany; 2Department of Sports Science, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand; 3School of Engineering & Life Sciences, Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany

Abstract: The use of dual-task training paradigm to enhance postural stability in patients with balance impairments is an emerging area of interest. The differential effects of dual tasks and dual-task training on postural stability still remain unclear. A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted to analyze the effects of dual task and training application on static and dynamic postural stability among various population groups. Systematic identification of published literature was performed adhering to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) guidelines, from inception until June 2016, on the online databases Scopus, PEDro, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and SportDiscus. Experimental studies analyzing the effects of dual task and dual-task training on postural stability were extracted, critically appraised using PEDro scale, and then summarized according to modified PEDro level of evidence. Of 1,284 records, 42 studies involving 1,480 participants met the review’s inclusion criteria. Of the studies evaluating the effects of dual-task training on postural stability, 87.5% of the studies reported significant enhancements, whereas 30% of the studies evaluating acute effects of dual tasks on posture reported significant enhancements, 50% reported significant decrements, and 20% reported no effects. Meta-analysis of the pooled studies revealed moderate but significant enhancements of dual-task training in elderly participants (95% CI: 1.16–2.10) and in patients suffering from chronic stroke (-0.22 to 0.86). The adverse effects of complexity of dual tasks on postural stability were also revealed among patients with multiple sclerosis (-0.74 to 0.05). The review also discusses the significance of verbalization in a dual-task setting for increasing cognitive–motor interference. Clinical implications are discussed with respect to practical applications in rehabilitation settings.

Keywords: multitasking, fall, balance, cognition, rehabilitation, training, coordination

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