The role of cognitive factors in predicting balance and fall risk in a Neuro-Rehabilitation setting

A. Saverino, D. Waller, K. Rantell, R. Parry, A. Moriarty, E. D. Playford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction There is a consistent body of evidence supporting the role of cognitive functions, particularly executive function, in the elderly and in neurological conditions which become more frequent with ageing. The aim of our study was to assess the role of different domains of cognitive functions to predict balance and fall risk in a sample of adults with various neurological conditions in a rehabilitation setting. Methods This was a prospective, cohort study conducted in a single centre in the UK. 114 participants consecutively admitted to a Neuro-Rehabilitation Unit were prospectively assessed for fall accidents. Baseline assessment included a measure of balance (Berg Balance Scale) and a battery of standard cognitive tests measuring executive function, speed of information processing, verbal and visual memory, visual perception and intellectual function. The outcomes of interest were the risk of becoming a faller, balance and fall rate. Results Two tests of executive function were significantly associated with fall risk, the Stroop Colour Word Test (IRR 1.01, 95% CI 1.00-1.03) and the number of errors on part B of the Trail Making Test (IRR 1.23, 95% CI 1.03-1.49). Composite scores of executive function, speed of information processing and visual memory domains resulted in 2 to 3 times increased likelihood of having better balance (OR 2.74 95% CI 1.08 to 6.94, OR 2.72 95% CI 1.16 to 6.36 and OR 2.44 95% CI 1.11 to 5.35 respectively) Conclusions Our results show that specific subcomponents of executive functions are able to predict fall risk, while a more global cognitive dysfunction is associated with poorer balance. 2016 Saverino et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0153469
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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