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Cognitive Function Is Associated With Mobility in Community Dwelling Older Adults With a History of Cardiovascular Disease

Blackwood, Jennifer, PT, PhD, GCS

Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal: April 2019 - Volume 30 - Issue 2 - p 86–93
doi: 10.1097/CPT.0000000000000095
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Purpose: Impaired cognitive function has been associated with changes in gait and balance deficits in older adults, thus contributing to an increased falls risk. However, associations between physical mobility and cognitive function have not been reported in older adults with cardiovascular disease (CVD). This study examined relationships between cognitive performance (executive function, visual spatial ability) and physical mobility (Timed Up and Go [TUG], gait speed, timed chair rise) in community-dwelling older adults with and without CVD.

Methods: Forty-six participants met inclusion/exclusion criteria. Group assignment was completed based on CVD history (CVD group: n = 27; non-CVD group: n = 19). Groupwise comparisons between demographic, cognitive, and mobility variables were performed. Associations between cognitive function and physical mobility were examined within each group.

Results: Groups did not differ in performance on mobility or cognitive measures; however, in older adults with CVD, executive function (Trail Making Test Part B) was independently associated with gait speed (rs = −0.469; P = .01) and TUG (rs = 0.430; P = .02). Other cognitive measures were not associated with physical mobility in those without CVD.

Conclusions: Due to associations found between executive processes and mobility, clinicians should consider screening executive function in older adults with CVD because it may influence physical mobility and falls risk; however, due to the small sample size, further study is indicated.

Physical Therapy Department, University of Michigan-Flint, Flint, MI

Correspondence: Jennifer Blackwood, PT, PhD, GCS, Physical Therapy Department, University of Michigan-Flint, 2157 William S. White Building, 303 East Kearsley Street, Flint, MI 48502-1950 (jblackwo@umflint.edu).

This research project was supported by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Student Award Program, the Michigan Physical Therapy Association Institute for Research, and the Physical Therapy Research Fund and the Office of Research at the University of Michigan-Flint.

The author declares no conflicts of interest.

The protocol for this study was approved through the Institutional Review Board of the University of Michigan-Flint. All subjects provided informed consent, and their anonymity was preserved in the process.

© 2019 Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section, APTA
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