Pay attention: Ritalin might aid in elderly fall prevention

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Pay attention: Ritalin might aid in elderly fall prevention
Pay attention: Ritalin might aid in elderly fall prevention
Ritalin, a drug commonly prescribed to improve children's concentration in school, might have a new function in preventing falls among the elderly, according to new research.

Israeli researchers found that the drug helps elderly people concentrate on their stride, resulting in improved performance on falls screening tests. Walking may not be a simple, automated task, and may require an extra level of cognitive function that seniors are prone to lack, according to Dr. Jeffrey M. Hausdorff, lead researcher at Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.

The study sampled 26 seniors with no signs of dementia who performed a "Timed Up and Go" test, a test that gauges fall risk by analyzing walking speed and consistency. Two hours after taking the attention-enhancing drug, seniors performed noticeably better on the test than those who received a placebo. The study was published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.