PloS one 2018 03 1513(3) e0191513 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0191513
Assessment of changes in higher levels of gait control with aging is important to better understand age-related gait instability, with the perspective to improve the screening of individuals at risk for falls. The comparison between actual Timed Up and Go test (aTUG) and its imagined version (iTUG) is a simple clinical way to assess age-related changes in gait control. The modulations of iTUG performances by body positions and motor imagery (MI) strategies with normal aging have not been evaluated yet. This study aims 1) to compare the aTUG time with the iTUG time under different body positions (i.e., sitting, standing or supine) in healthy young and middle age, and older adults, and 2) to examine the associations of body positions and MI strategies (i.e., egocentric versus allocentric) with the time needed to complete the iTUG and the delta TUG time (i.e., relative difference between aTUG and iTUG) while taking into consideration clinical characteristics of participants.
A total of 60 healthy individuals (30 young and middle age participants 26.6±7.4 years, and 30 old participants 75.0±4.4 years) were recruited in this cross-sectional study. The iTUG was performed while sitting, standing and in supine position. Times of the aTUG, the iTUG under the three body positions, the TUG delta time and the strategies of MI (i.e., ego representation, defined as representation of the location of objects in space relative to the body axes of the self, versus allocentric representation defined as encoding information about body movement with respect to other object, the location of body being defined relative to the location of other objects) were used as outcomes. Age, sex, height, weight, number of drugs taken daily, level of physical activity and prevalence of closed eyes while performing iTUG were recorded.
The aTUG time is significantly greater than iTUG while sitting and standing (P<0.001), except when older participants are standing. A significant difference is reported between iTUG while sitting or standing and iTUG while supine (P≤0.002), higher time being reported in supine position. The multiple linear regressions confirm that the supine position is associated with significant increased iTUG (P≤0.04) and decreased TUG delta time (P≤0.010), regardless of the adjustment. Older participants use the allocentric MI while imagining TUG more frequently than young and middle age participants, regardless of body positions (P≤0.001). Allocentric MI strategy is associated with a significant decrease in iTUG (P = 0.037) only while adjusting for age. A significant increase of iTUG time is associated with age (P≤0.026). CONCLUSIONS
Supine position while imagining TUG represents a more accurate position of actual performance of TUG. Age has a limited effect on iTUG performance but is associated with a change in MI from ego to allocentric representation that decreases the iTUG performances, and thus increases the discrepancy with aTUG.