Changes in brain decide how elderly balance themselves

March 18th, 2008 - 5:48 pm ICT by admin  

London, March 18 (IANS) Age-related changes in the brain govern how well people get around and keep their balance in old age, says a study. The three-year study called LADIS (Leukoaraiosis and Disability), coordinated by University of Florence, involved 639 men and women aged between 65 and 84, who underwent brain scans and walking and balance tests.

Of the group, 284 had mild age-related white matter changes, 197 moderate changes, and 158 severe changes. Those having severe changes were twice as likely to score poorly on the walking and balance tests as those with mild white matter changes.

The study also found people with severe changes twice as likely as the mild group to have a history of falls. The moderate group was one-and-a-half times as likely as the mild group to have a history of falls.

Findings of the study have been published in the latest issue of the journal Neurology.

“Walking difficulties and falls are major symptoms of people with white matter changes and a significant cause of illness and death in the elderly,” said Hansjoerg Baezner, the study’s author.

“Exercise may have the potential to reduce the risk of these problems since exercise is associated with improved walking and balance. We’ll be testing whether exercise has such a protective effect in our long-term study of this group,” he added.

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