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Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy

Print version ISSN 1413-3555

Abstract

HERNANDEZ, Salma S. S.; COELHO, Flávia G. M.; GOBBI, Sebastião  and  STELLA, Florindo. Effects of physical activity on cognitive functions, balance and risk of falls in elderly patients with Alzheimer's dementia. Rev. bras. fisioter. [online]. 2010, vol.14, n.1, pp. 68-74. ISSN 1413-3555.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1413-35552010000100011.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze the effects of regular, systematic and supervised activity on the cognitive functions, balance and risk of falls of elderly patients with Alzheimer's Dementia (AD). METHODS: Sixteen elderly patients (mean age 78.5±6.8 years) were divided into two groups: intervention group (IG; n=9) and routine group (RG; n=7). The IG exercised systematically for six months, and both groups were submitted to the following tests: Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Timed Up-and-Go (TUG) and the agility/dynamic balance (AGIBAL) item of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) test battery. RESULTS: There was a statistically significant interaction (two-way ANOVA; F1,14=32.07; p=0.01) between groups and moments for the AGIBAL. The Mann Whitney U test indicated significant differences between groups (p=0.03), only at the post-intervention moment for the TUG measured in steps and for BBS. Therefore, no significant intergroup differences were found for the TUG, BBS and MMSE at the pre-intervention moment or at post-intervention moment for the TUG measured in seconds and MMSE. The intragroup analysis by means of the Wilcoxon test showed a significant decline in the TUG, BBS and MMSE for the RG, but not for the IG. Spearman's coefficient showed a significant correlation between the results of the MMSE and AGIBAL. CONCLUSIONS: Physical activity may be an important non-pharmacological approach that can benefit cognitive functions and balance and reduce the risk of falls. Moreover, agility and balance are associated with cognitive functions in elderly patients with AD.

Keywords : physical activity; cognitive function; balance; risk of falls; Alzheimer.

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