Dual-task Interference: The Effects of Verbal Cognitive Tasks on Upright Postural Stability in Parkinson's Disease
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Although dual-task interference has previously been demonstrated to have a significant effect on postural control among individuals with Parkinson's disease, the impact of speech complexity on postural control has not been demonstrated using quantitative biomechanical measures. The postural stability of twelve participants with idiopathic Parkinson's disease and twelve healthy age-matched controls was evaluated under three conditions: (1) without a secondary task, (2) performing a rote repetition task and (3) generating a monologue. Results suggested a significant effect of cognitive load on biomechanical parameters of postural stability. Although both groups increased their postural excursion, individuals with Parkinson's disease demonstrated significantly reduced excursion as compared with that of healthy age-matched controls. This suggests that participants with Parkinson's disease may be overconstraining their postural adjustments in order to focus attention on the cognitive tasks without losing their balance. Ironically, this overconstraint may place the participant at greater risk for a fall.