Mind the gaps: functional networks disrupted by white matter hyperintensities are associated with greater falls risk.

Crockett RA
Hsu CL
Dao E
Tam R
Alkeridy W
Eng JJ
Handy TC
Liu-Ambrose T
Scientific Abstract

White matter hyperintensities (WMH) are associated with greater falls risk and slow gait speed. Whether these deficits are caused by the disruption of large-scale functional networks remains inconclusive. Further, physical activity moderates the association between WMHs and falls, but whether this extends to the disruption of functional networks remains unknown. One hundred and sixty-four adults (>55 years old) were included in this study. Using lesion network mapping, we identified significant correlations between the percentage of WMH-related disruption of the dorsal attention network and Physiological Profile Assessment (PPA) score (r = 0.24, p < 0.01); and between disruption of both the sensorimotor (r = 0.23, p < 0.01) and ventral attention networks (r = 0.21, p = 0.01) with foam sway. There were no significant associations with floor sway or gait speed. Physical activity moderated the association between the dorsal attention network and PPA score (p = 0.045). Thus, future research should investigate whether physical activity should be recommended in the clinical management of older adults with cerebral small vessel disease.


2022. Neurobiol Aging, 109:166-175.

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