Prosthetics and Orthotics International
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INTRODUCTION: Falls are common for people with lower-limb amputations (PLLA). Low balance confidence is also prevalent, is worse in PLLA not reporting walking automaticity, and is known to negatively affect prosthesis use, social engagement, and quality of life. Moreover, walking with a prosthesis requires continuous attention. Low balance confidence may act as a distractor imposing an additional cognitive load on the already cognitively demanding task of walking with a prosthesis.
METHODS: Adults with unilateral, transtibial amputations were recruited. The Activities-specific Balance Confidence (ABC) scale quantified balance confidence. The L Test assessed basic walking abilities under single-task (ST) (usual) and dual-task (DT) (walking while counting backwards) conditions. The relative change in gait and secondary task performance between conditions (ie, DT cost) was calculated. Separate multivariable linear regressions examined the association of balance confidence on the L Test.
RESULTS: Forty-four PLLA (56.6 ± 12.6 years) participated. An independent association of the ABC to ST (P < 0.001, R2 = 0.56) and DT (P = 0.008, R2 = 0.43) L Test performance was observed. A 1% ABC increase was related with a 0.24 (95% confidence interval, 0.35-0.14) and 0.23 (95% confidence interval, 0.39-0.06) second reduction with the ST and DT L Test, respectively. No association to DT cost was observed.
CONCLUSIONS: Balance confidence influences basic walking abilities yet does not modulate the added cognitive load associated with DT. Interventions that address balance confidence may be beneficial throughout rehabilitation. This research is novel and offers the possibility for alternative avenues for focus in rehabilitation and falls prevention in a population at high risk for falls.
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Available for download on Thursday, January 25, 2024