Reducing fall risk with combined motor and cognitive training in elderly fallers

Francesco Barban, Roberta Annicchiarico, Matteo Melideo, Alessia Federici, Maria Giovanna Lombardi, Simone Giuli, Claudia Ricci, Fulvia Adriano, Ivo Griffini, Manuel Silvestri, Massimo Chiusso, Sergio Neglia, Sergio Ariño-Blasco, Raquel Cuevas Perez, Yannis Dionyssiotis, Georgios Koumanakos, Milo Kovačeić, Nuria Montero-Fernández, Oscar Pino, Niels BoyeUlises Cortés, Cristian Barrué, Atia Cortés, Peter Levene, Stelios Pantelopoulos, Roberto Rosso, José Antonio Serra-Rexach, Angelo Maria Sabatini, Carlo Caltagirone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Falling is a major clinical problem in elderly people, demanding effective solutions. At present, the only effective intervention is motor training of balance and strength. Executive function-based training (EFt) might be effective at preventing falls according to evidence showing a relationship between executive functions and gait abnormalities. The aim was to assess the effectiveness of a motor and a cognitive treatment developed within the EU co-funded project I-DONT-FALL. Methods. In a sample of 481 elderly people at risk of falls recruited in this multicenter randomised controlled trial, the effectiveness of a motor treatment (pure motor or mixed with EFt) of 24 one-hour sessions delivered through an i-Walker with a non-motor treatment (pure EFt or control condition) was evaluated. Similarly, a 24 one-hour session cognitive treatment (pure EFt or mixed with motor training), delivered through a touch-screen computer was compared with a non-cognitive treatment (pure motor or control condition). Results. Motor treatment, particularly when mixed with EFt, reduced significantly fear of falling (F(1,478) = 6.786, p = 0.009) although to a limited extent (ES -0.25) restricted to the period after intervention. Conclusions. This study suggests the effectiveness of motor treatment empowered by EFt in reducing fear of falling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 10 2017


  • Cognitive training
  • Elderly
  • Executive functions
  • Fall risk
  • Fear of falling
  • Motor training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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