Aging, the Central Nervous System, and Mobility in Older Adults: Interventions

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Abstract

Background:

Research suggests that the central nervous system (CNS) and mobility are closely linked. CNS-mediated mobility impairment may represent a potentially new and prevalent syndrome within the older adult populations. Interventions targeting this group may have the potential to improve mobility and cognition and prevent disability.

Methods:

In 2012, the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) sponsored a 3-year conference workshop series, “Aging, the CNS, and Mobility.” The goal of this third and final conference was to (i) report on the state of the science of interventions targeting CNS-mediated mobility impairment among community-dwelling older adults and (ii) partnering with the NIA, explore the future of research and intervention design focused on a potentially novel aging syndrome.

Results:

Evidence was presented in five main intervention areas: (i) pharmacology and diet; (ii) exercise; (iii) electrical stimulation; (iv) sensory stimulation/deprivation; and (v) a combined category of multimodal interventions. Workshop participants identified important gaps in knowledge and key recommendations for future interventions related to recruitment and sample selection, intervention design, and methods to measure effectiveness.

Conclusions:

In order to develop effective preventive interventions for this prevalent syndrome, multidisciplinary teams are essential particularly because of the complex nature of the syndrome. Additionally, integrating innovative methods into the design of interventions may help researchers better measure complex mechanisms, and finally, the value of understanding the link between the CNS and mobility should be conveyed to researchers across disciplines in order to incorporate cognitive and mobility measurements into study protocols.

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