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Original Investigation
March 28, 2011

Effect of Music-Based Multitask Training on Gait, Balance, and Fall Risk in Elderly People: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Bone Diseases, Department of Rehabilitation and Geriatrics, University Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland (Drs Trombetti, Hars, Herrmann, Ferrari, and Rizzoli); and Department of Acute Geriatrics, Basel University Hospital and Medical Faculty of Basel University, Basel, Switzerland (Dr Kressig).

Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(6):525-533. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.446

Falls are common and devastating among elderly people.1-4 Each year, one-third of the population 65 years and older experiences at least 1 fall, and half of those fall repeatedly.1,3-5 This problem will continue to grow as the number of older adults increases over the coming decades.6 Thus, preventing falls in elderly individuals is a major concern. Measures to reduce falls are often of limited benefit.7 Exercise can counteract key risk factors for falls, such as poor balance, and consequently reduce risk of falling in elderly community-dwelling individuals.7,8

A large proportion of falls in elderly people occurs during walking.9,10 Moreover, older adults are more likely to fall when performing concurrent tasks, such as walking while performing other motor or cognitive tasks.11,12 Gait variability (ie, stride-to-stride fluctuations in walking), particularly during dual-task walking conditions, can objectively characterize gait impairment, with greater variability reflecting a more unstable gait pattern, that in turn leads to an increased risk of falling.1,13-17 There is little information regarding effective measures to improve or even reverse age-related gait impairment under dual-task conditions in elderly people.