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A person typing on a laptop in relation to the article: Study links overactive bladder to increased falling risk in older adults
10 December 2021
Overactive Bladder
Study links overactive bladder to increased falling risk in older adults

A team of University of Alberta researchers focused on aging Albertans has found that urinary incontinence could be a contributing factor in falls among older adults. The study found that the feeling of having to pee acts as a distracting factor that increases the risk of falling.

The team studied the gait of nearly 30 older adults diagnosed with overactive bladders with the help of the gait lab in the Syncrude Centre for Motion and Balance at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. Using the lab’s 3D capture technology, which takes highly accurate measurements of gait and joint position, the researchers asked subjects to walk the length of the lab and back — first under normal conditions, then while doing a simple cognitive test at the same time, and finally after drinking enough water or tea to make them feel the urge to go to the bathroom.

The team found that the feeling of urgency caused by a full bladder induced similar changes in gait to those caused by the distracting task: the gait of the subjects tended to become slower and narrower, which is associated with increased risk of falling.

William Gibson, lead author of the study and assistant professor of geriatric medicine, comments “this is pretty good evidence that people with incontinence are being distracted by their bladders, which means that they’re less able to concentrate on walking.

“Being balanced and walking requires some cognitive inputs, and for young, healthy people, they don’t have to think about walking,” he explained. “But when you’re older, with changes to the brain, it requires more cognitive input to maintain balance. If you’ve then got a distracting factor of your bladder, it makes you more likely to fall.”

Read the full article online.

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