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Evaluating the fall risk among elderly population by choice step reaction test

Authors Wang D, Zhang J, Sun Y, Zhu W, Tian S, Liu Y

Received 17 February 2016

Accepted for publication 9 April 2016

Published 10 August 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 1075—1082


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Zhi-Ying Wu

Donghai Wang,1 Jian Zhang,1 Yuliang Sun,2 Wenfei Zhu,2 Shiliu Tian,1 Yu Liu1

1Key Laboratory of Exercise and Health Sciences of the Ministry of Education, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China; 2School of Physical Education, Shaanxi Normal University, Xian, People’s Republic of China

Abstract: Falls during daily activities are often associated with injuries and physical disabilities, thereby affecting quality of life among elder adults. Balance control, which is crucial in avoiding falls, is composed of two elements: muscle strength and central nervous system (CNS) control. A number of studies have reported that reduced muscle strength raises the risk of falling. However, to date there has been only limited research focused on the relationship between fall risk and the CNS. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between CNS and risk of falling among the elderly. A total of 140 elderly people (92 females and 48 males) were divided into faller and nonfaller groups based on questionnaire responses concerning falls in their daily life. Participants undertook a choice step reaction test in which they were required to respond to random visual stimuli using foot movements as fast as possible in the left or right directions. Response time was quantified as premotor time (PMT) and motor time (MT). In addition, the participants’ electromyography data were recorded during the choice step reaction test. A maximal isokinetic torque test was also performed. PMT was greater in the fallers than in the nonfallers group. There was a significant difference between fall status and direction on PMT. PMT of the left limb in nonfallers was faster than the right, but in fallers there was no difference between left and right limbs. A similar phenomenon was also observed for MT. There were significant differences between fallers and nonfallers in maximum isokinetic torque at knee and ankle joints. The correct rate of PMT was higher than other variables, such as MT and maximal isokinetic torque, in evaluating elderly fall risk by using logistic regression analyses. The results suggest that PMT in the choice step reaction test could be a useful parameter to assess risk of fall among elder adults. In addition, decreased maximal isokinetic torque was related to greater PMT and disappearance of asymmetry in older adults who were at higher risk of fall, especially in the lower limb.

Keywords: falling, elderly, choice step reaction test, premotor time

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