‘Apparently Healthy’ Individuals Who Can’t Balance on 1 Foot Have Higher Rates of Cerebral Vessel Disease, Cognitive Decline

A new study from Japan has found that among apparently healthy middle-aged adults, an inability to balance on 1 foot for more than 20 seconds could be an indicator of cerebral small vessel disease (cSVD), a condition that can lead to stroke and cognitive impairment. The same group also showed higher rates of cognitive decline.

The study tested 1,387 individuals from 49 to 75 years old (average age 67) for postural instability and compared the results with brain MRI scans. The results were e-published ahead of print in the American Heart Association’s journal StrokeĀ (abstract only available for free).

Researchers used 2 tests to measure postural stability: a 1-leg standing time (OLST) assessment, and a posturograph test of center of gravity. For the OLST, subjects were allowed to choose the leg on which they stood and were measured on 2 attempts to balance on 1 foot with eyes open for 1 minute. The posturograph test used a footplate that measured fluctuations in pressure while subjects stood on both feet and viewed a “circular achromatic target” placed 200 centimeters (78.7 inches) away. After sitting for 1 minute, subjects were reassessed while standing with their eyes closed.

Full story of balancing on one foot and cognitive decline at APTA