All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Lesleye A Ross

Advisory Committee Members

Karlene K Ball

David E Vance

Virgina W Bradley

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2012

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Multiple research studies have shown transfer effects in everyday functioning with speed of processing training. Research has also shown that processing speed predicts physical function and mobility trajectories, with declining speed predicting weaker physical capacities and smaller life space. Additionally, it is well established that processing speed declines in older adults. As processing speed is a modifable cognitive ability, it is possible that speed of processing training may be useful to improve physical function and mobility outcomes in the aging population. The current study examined 5-year trajectories of mobility and physical function in 1400 older adults to ascertain if speed of processing training could reduce declines in physical performance and mobility outcomes. Mixed effect models evaluated group differences for the following outcomes: turn 360, grip strength, and life space. Mixed effect analyses indicated that particpants in the ITT (intention to treat) model showed no protection for the trajectories in the studied outcomes. For participants in the dosage model, the number of training sessions was positively associated with better physical performance (less steps to complete turn) in the turn 360 outcome over the 5-year study (p < .006). The number of training sessions was not protective of declines in the grip strength outcome or the total life outcome. The association between turn 360 and processing speed may represent a potentially modifiable pathway, for improving function in older adults and should be confirmed in future studies.

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