The Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology

Biological and neural mechanisms of falls

Type: 1 R01 AG044007-01A1
Principal Investigator: Joe Verghese 
Agency: National Institute on Aging 

Current falls research in aging is mostly focused on clinical predictors of falls and there is a knowledge gap regarding underlying biological and neural mechanisms of falls. Emerging evidence from our and other studies implicates biological derangements in inflammation, oxidative stress, and vascular pathways in the occurrence of disorders of gait, balance, and cognition, which are major risk factors for falls in older adults. We hypothesize that abnormal biological pathways initiate atherosclerosis leading to cerebral vascular damage that increases risk of falls in older adults. We draw together a multidisciplinary team to conduct high-quality research to establish biological and neural mechanisms of falls building on our extensive cognitive and mobility research. We will cross-enroll 530 participants, age 65 and older, from the ongoing Central Control of Mobility in Aging study offering a cost and time efficient strategy to study biological and neural mechanisms of falls.  We propose the following three synergistic aims focusing on our common theme of biological and neural contributions to falls in aging.

  1. Determine biological mechanisms (inflammation, oxidative stress, and vascular pathways) contributing to falls.
  2. Establish contributions of central microvascular pathology to fall risk using state of the art neuroimaging techniques. 
  3. Establish the contribution of the prefrontal cortex to falls using an innovative functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), that enables imaging during walking.

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Letter from the Chief 

New Developments

Verghese Gait Video Geriatrician Joe Verghese explains how subtle changes in gait can identify which patients are at risk for frailty – with the goal of preventing falls and mental decline. Dr. Verghese is chief of geriatrics at Einstein and Montefiore Medical Center and a professor of neurology and of medicine at Einstein. This edition of Einstein On, a research and medicine podcast, is hosted by Paul Moniz, managing director of communications and marketing at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Watch full interview  
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