A new study published in The Journals of Gerontology found that a single dose of methylphenidate (MPH) may help to improve balance control during walks, which ultimately may reduce the risk of falls among older adults. Researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) administered a single dose (10 mg) of MPH to the study’s participants and were assessed under four task conditions of single and combined motor and cognitive tasks.
The participants were 30 older adults who were at least 70 years old and had the ability to walk 70 feet without assistance from either a device or a person.
Itshak Melzer, PhD, PT, explains that the enhanced attention that arose as a result of MPH may lead to improved balance control during walking. The results showed that the MPH improves walking by reducing the number of step errors and the step error rate in both single and dual tasks. Melzer adds that the findings that “MPH improves gait can be explained not just by its effect of attentional improvements, but also by indications that it has a direct influence on areas of the brain that deal with motor and balance control.”
Melzer concludes that, “Our results add to a growing body of evidence showing that MPH may have a role as a therapeutic option for improving gait and reducing fall risk in older adults.”
[Source: The Journals of Gerontology]