The effect of performing a dual-task on postural control and selective attention of older adults when stepping backward

Wai Nam Tsang, Vito Wai Lok Chan, Henry Hei Wong, Tony Wai Cheong Yip, Xi Lu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Published by IPEC Inc. [Purpose] The purpose of the study was to investigate the postural control and cognitive performance of older adults when stepping backward with and without a concurrent cognitive task. [Subjects and Methods] Thirty young adults and twenty-eight older adults (mean age=21.3 ± 1.2 and 72.2 ± 5.7 years, respectively) were recruited. Participants were asked to step backward and then maintain a single-leg stance for 10 seconds with and without a concurrent auditory response task. The reaction time and error rate while performing the cognitive task were recorded. Postural stability after stepping back was measured in terms of total sway path and total sway area. [Results] The older subjects had significantly longer reaction times and higher error rates in both single- and dual-tasking. When dual-tasking, both groups had significantly longer reaction times than when single-tasking. Only the older adults showed significantly higher error rates. The older adults also had significantly longer total sway paths and larger total sway areas of single-leg stance after stepping back. Neither group showed a significant difference in total sway path and sway area between single- and dual-tasking. [Conclusion] Older adults have poorer cognitive performance and postural stability during both single- and dual-tasking. They tend to prioritize postural control over cognition in dual-tasking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2806-2811
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Therapy Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Dual-tasking
  • Postural stability
  • Stepping backward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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