New possible link between falls and cognitive impairment

New research suggests there could be a link between certain kinds of cognitive impairment and a greater risk of falls among seniors.

Dr. Manuel Montero-Odasso, professor of medicine and geriatric medicine at Western University and co-lead of Team 12 with the CCNA recently sat down with the ‘The Current’ on CBC to discuss the possible link.

“Certain brain networks in the frontal lobe of the brain are important not only for cognitive processes, like attention and executive function, which is one of the capability to multitask, but also to control navigation and gait, the way we walk,” said Dr. Montero-Odasso. “When we get older, for several mechanisms – some are related to aging processes, some related to diseases – those networks become a little slow. And when they share the capability to focus in the balance and gait, plus in the cognition, they become overwhelmed and they fail in the process in its bid to regulate mobility.”

Brain exercises may improve balance and gait, which may decrease the risk of falls. Dr. Montero-Odasso says brain exercises that involve dual tasking or multitasking could result in cognitive improvement, particularly when an individual is distracted, which is when most falls tend to occur. The brain becomes better trained to avoid or to cope with distractions that may lead to falls.

To listen to the full interview with Dr. Montero-Odasso, click here. To read the full transcript, click here (English only).