A Simple Balance Test to Predict Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's brain
According to a new study, a simple balance test may predict cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s.

The image depicts an atrophied Alzheimer’s brain.

This study was carried out in 16 university hospital departments of neurology, geriatrics or psychiatry in ten cities with 686 outpatients suffering from Alzheimer’s.

This population is representative of the Alzheimer’s population seen by clinicians in daily practice. Patients were evaluated by a geriatrician every six months for up to two years, and their degree of cognitive impairment was measured using the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE).

At the same time, a "one-leg balance" (OLB) test was given, where a participant was asked to stand on one leg for as long as possible. The OLB test was reported as abnormal when the participant was unable to stand on one leg for 5 seconds or more.

Participants with an abnormal OLB at baseline or/and during the follow-up showed significantly more cognitive decline at 12, 18 and 24 months than the participants with a OLB test normal at baseline and normal during the follow-up.

The worst condition (having an abnormal OLB at baseline and during the follow-up= no improvement) was associated with a mean adjusted cognitive decline of 9.2 points.

The best condition (having a normal OLB at baseline and during the follow-up = no worsening) was associated with a mean adjusted cognitive decline of 3.8 points.

Senior Investigator Yves Rolland states, "Our results suggested that an abnormal OLB is a marker of more advanced dementia (worst baseline characteristic) and an independent predictor of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s. Our results reinforce in an Alzheimer’s population, the growing evidence suggesting a link between physical performances and cognitive decline. If these results are confirmed by other data, the OLB test could be adopted in clinical practice to identify Alzheimer’s patients at high risk of rapid cognitive decline."


1. Yves Rolland, et al. An Abnormal ‘One-leg Balance’ Test Predicts Cognitive Decline During Alzheimer’s Disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 16:3.


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3 Responses

  1. My husband read somewhere that standing on one leg on the London Underground (Metro) is good exercise for the brain. So if you see a middle aged couple each standing on one leg each – probably in fits of giggles – on the tube even, though there are plnty of empty seats you’ve probably found us.

    Actually it’s amazingly difficult.

    Glad to see you’re back to blogging, and educating your readers!

  2. I remember reading a book called “How to Increase Your Intelligence” It suggested balancing exercises like walking on a railroad tie which is similar to this one suggested to test dementia.

    It is interesting that flu shots may reduce Alzheimer’s.

    • Hmmm. I don’t think I was aware that flu shots reduces Alzheimer’s. Thanks for the tip……….David

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