Background: The ability to produce effective posture and balance while distracted (dual-tasking; DT), is critical for mobility. In particular, individuals implicit prioritization across posture and secondary, distracting stimuli may impact fall risk. However, the impact of gender on DT and prioritization during gait is poorly understood. Research question: Does gender impact DT effects or prioritization while DT walking? Methods: One hundred older adults participated. The timed up and go (TUG) was completed with and without a secondary cognitive task (counting backwards by 3′s). Gait (time to complete the TUG), and cognitive (rate of correct numbers listed) performance was recorded during both single tasks and while dual-tasking. DT effects were calculated for cognitive and gait performance. Prioritization was calculated as the difference between cognitive and gait DT effects. The effect of gender on DT and prioritization was assessed, controlling for age and cognitive ability. Results: Gender by condition (single vs. dual-task) interaction effects were observed (Gait: F1,96 =8.7; p = 0.004; Cognition: F1,96 =5.2; p = 0.024) such that, compared to male participants, females exhibited smaller cognitive DT effects, and larger gait DT effects. Further, females exhibited significantly larger prioritization scores (F1,95 =10.0, p = 0.002), indicating a cognitive prioritization compared to males. Significance: Given the link between posture-second strategies and falls, the current findings may provide some insight into previous results suggesting an increased fall-risk in older-adult women. However, this study did not investigate falls. Therefore, additional work is necessary to confirm current findings and further investigate the relationship between gender, prioritization, and falls; and its possible clinical relevance.
- Dual task
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine