Aging2.0 hosted a webinar all about fall prevention

Aging2.0 webinar on fall prevention.

On Wednesday, November 6th, Dr. Nathan Estrada of Nymbl Science teamed up with Jayne Keller, VP of Senior Living at Christian Living and Cappella Living Solutions, and Karen Brown, CEO of iAging, to host an Aging2.0 webinar all about fall prevention.

First off, we would like to thank Karen Brown for organizing the webinar and facilitating such a meaningful conversation about fall prevention. Thank you as well to Jayne Keller. Her insights on fall prevention in senior living, were very valuable to attendees exploring how to best serve their older adults. And thank you to the many participants who joined us! The questions that were asked showed how forward-thinking people are in the senior care space.

Topics covered:

  • The evolution of fall prevention from 30 years ago to today
  • How what we “knew” directed what we did, but we “know” different now
  • How the unintended consequence of fall education can be FEAR
  • The changing behaviors of older adults and how that impacts expectations
  • Review of current evidence that balance is a reflex and requires a change in training

If you were unable to make the webinar, we recorded it and published for you to view and use as a resource when exploring the evolving fall prevention methods.

The Role Dual-Tasking Plays in People with Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a devastating brain disorder caused by the impairment of nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls movement. The combination of two characteristic symptoms of PD can be very deleterious to a person’s overall health.

One symptom is a shuffling gait, and a struggle to continue to move forward (reported as a “freezing” sensation). The other symptom is decreased balance. Their balance is no longer controlled reflexively, like it is for the rest of us. Instead, they must pay more attention while they are walking in order to not lose their balance. The collective effect of both these symptoms is an increased fall risk for Parkinson’s patients.

To improve gait and balance, people with PD typically see a physical therapist to help them increase their stride length and reduce their chance of tripping. Counter to previous beliefs in which dual-tasking while walking could be detrimental to a person’s balance, research now shows dual-tasking can be an essential intervention in improving gait and balance in people with Parkinson’s, providing an alternative to the classic physical therapy techniques.

Sandra Brauer from the University of Queensland and Meg Morris from the University of Melbourne conducted a study on how added tasks and performing working memory tasks while walking can improve PD patients’ gait.

In their study, 20 participants with mild to moderate Parkinson’s had their baseline gait measured with and without added tasks, and then underwent a training period that included dual-task training to increase their gait. Subjects performed working memory tasks and counting tasks while they were walking and instructed to “take bigger steps”. As the training went on, the difficulty of the cognitive task increased.

After the training period, the subjects’ gait with the added tasks was measured again. The results of this study fully supported the hypothesis that dual-tasking training would improve gait in Parkinson’s patients. All 20 participants showed increased gait length after their dual-tasking training because they had learned how to focus more on the task, and less on the way they were walking (“reduced attention demand of gait”).

How does this relate to Nymbl Science? Nymbl uses a similar dual-tasking approach to train balance in older adults. Just like PD patients, balance in older adults is not as effectively controlled reflexively, but is instead something they have to consciously think about while performing their day-to-day tasks, ultimately creating a lot of anxiety.

As demonstrated in both the Parkinson’s study and in Nymbl users dual-tasking shifts balancefrom the frontal cortex (the “thinking” part of the brain) back to the cerebellum for reflexive balance control. For Nymbl users, performing simple exercises while interacting with fun cognitive tasks drives their balance control back to being reflexive.

The Brauer and Morris study is further proof that dual-tasking training has the power to transform balance in a wide range of people, which in turn leads to improved health and overall lifestyle.