Scientists have linked a person’s ability, or inability to balance on one leg for periods of 20-seconds or longer to strokes and dementia in the long term. Japanese researchers are suggesting that those who cannot balance or stand on one leg for a period of at least 20-seconds is more likely at risk for a stroke or dementia at some point in their lives. The study also showed that those who cannot balance at all, or who have a difficult time balancing on one leg – might have also already had a small stroke.
Yasuharu Tabara, the lead author on the study pointed out that “Individuals showing instability while standing on one leg, as well as problems walking, should receive increased attention, as this physical frailty may signal potential brain abnormalities and mental decline.”
Overall the study evaluated 1,400 men and women. Their average age was 67, and the researchers asked them to stand on one leg for 20-seconds. After tracking their success, the researchers had the participants undergo an MRI scan. They looked at the small blood vessels in the brains of those who were participating – which are regularly referred to as “silent strokes.”
Small strokes, according to the research are the leading cause of mental decline and dementia. One member of the team pointed out that “This test may be an inexpensive, low-tech method to screen people for small vessel disease who are most likely at risk for further strokes and brain damage.”
It’s the notion that through this method doctors would possibly be able to pre-screen before more expensive tests are actually needed. While it’s definitely not full-proof, it does create a more accessible method to pre-screen, and that’s ultimately where the advantage is for doctors. Especially in less stable areas where medical technology isn’t as prevalent as it is here in the United States.
Researchers also noted that men who were 53 years old were also at risk of dying earlier than others if they were not able to sit down and stand up and sit down in a chair at least 37 times in a minute. The same was found in women who were the same age, and were not able to stand on one leg for more than 10 seconds.
The findings ultimately make home-screening more plausible, and gives patients that are already at high-risk a better tool for keeping an eye on their health themselves.