The acute effect of caffeine ingestion on cognitive dual task performance during assessment of static and dynamic balance in older adults
The present work aimed to evaluate the effect of 3 mg·kg−1 caffeine consumption on the standing and dynamic balance performance of older adults and sought to establish if caffeine ingestion can modulate the influence of a cognitive dual task on balance performance. Twelve apparently healthy participants (8 females) aged >65 years (72 ± 3.7 years) completed the study. Bipedal postural sway, four square step test, timed up and go, Y-balance (anterior reach only) and force-time characteristics of sit-to-stand performance were used to assess standing and dynamic balance. Attention and working memory were assessed using a serial 3s and 7s subtraction task during seated rest and completion of the bipedal standing assessment and Y-balance test. This battery of assessments was completed on two separate occasions, once following the consumption of a non-ergogenic placebo and again following the consumption of 3 mg·kg−1 caffeine. The administration of treatments was randomised, counterbalanced and double-blind. Caffeine reduced performance in the bipedal standing balance assessments, evidenced by an increase in COPML, COPPath, COPVelocity. Performance during the dynamic balance tests was unaffected, other than rate of force development during the sit-to-stand, which was improved following caffeine ingestion. The introduction of a cognitive dual task had either limited effects, or improved facets of bipedal standing balance, whilst performance during the dynamic balance task was significantly reduced. In both balance assessments, there was evidence for a reduction in the performance of the cognitive task when both the balance and cognitive tests were performed simultaneously, with this effect not modulated by caffeine consumption. These findings refute the idea that caffeine ingestion may have positive effects on balance performance. However, despite a caffeine-induced reduction in bipedal standing balance, it is unlikely that caffeine ingestion would exacerbate fall risk given the limited effects in the dynamic balance tests. Future work should establish if these effects are generalisable to older frail participants and if caffeine can modulate the detrimental effects of an acute exercise bout on balance performance.
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