Japanese researchers have invented a new, easy way to gauge the risk of brain abnormality… and make us look stupid at the same time. (Well, doctors are under a lot of stress, I guess they needed a laugh.)
Yasuharu Tabara, from the Center for Genomic Medicine at Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Kyoto and his colleagues found that an inability to balance on one leg for more than twenty seconds was linked to an increased risk of small blood vessel damage in the brain and reduced cognitive function, even in people who otherwise appeared healthy.
Over 1300 people, men and women, were asked to stand on one leg (not necessarily in a yogic fashion) with their eyes open. They then had MRI scans, which is when researchers confirmed a link between an inability to stand one-legged for longer than 20 seconds and cerebral small vessel disease, which can cause small blood clots and microbleeds in the brain. The risk was more significant in older people, but even when the results were adjusted for age and high blood pressure, the link remained.
Previous research has shown a connection between lower cognitive scores and the inability to balance on one leg for long. Cognitive impairment and a reduction in coordination and balance in small vessel disease could be due to poorer blood flow, as it makes arteries in the brain less flexible.
Of course, this isn’t an assessment doctors could administer to many people who are disabled or who already have balance issues. But it could become an important and non-invasive test of brain health for people who otherwise seem healthy, but actually have problems that could be nipped in the bud if they were spotted in the early stages. Just maybe don’t try it at home unless you’ve got something to hold onto nearby – an inability to balance for long also significantly increases your risk of breaking a leg.
Image via Pixabay.
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