Alcohol has been implicated in the etiology of many falls in the elderly yet little is known concerning the acute effects of alcohol on gait and posture. This study is designed to identify the mechanisms involved in falling in the aged under both normal conditions and when postural stability and gait are degraded by alcohol. Year 1 will be spent gaining experience and collecting baseline data on the biomechanical and visual effects of acute alcohol consumption in 15 young males. Years 2 and 3 will then focus on a group of 30 elderly subjects (aged 65 to 75) to investigate the effects of alcohol on gait and posture under both normal and altered visual conditions. Detailed medical histories will be collected through administration of the DIS schedule and through thorough physical examinations, including measures of sensation and proprioception. The subjects will be asked to perform various postural and locomotor tasks after having consumed ethanol to raise their blood alcohol levels to 0.75 mg/ml (1.00 mg/ml for young male subjects). A variety of perturbations will be used to define the role of various control and feedback systems in the tasks. the effects of placebo and one month repeatability of the alcohol condition will also be assessed. Conduct of and recovery from all alcohol experiments will be closely supervised according to accepted practices in alcohol research. It is anticipated that this series of experiments will provide new information on a number of levels. First, we will develop specialized protocols for alcohol administration and testing of gait and posture on both young and elderly subjects. Second, new information is expected to be gained on the mechanisms controlling gait and posture in the elderly. Third, the effects of alcohol on gait and posture in the elderly will be defined. Fourth, the data are expected to provide a better basis for the understanding of falls in a variety of degradation conditions and to shed light on how they may be prevented.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Biochemistry, Physiology and Medicine Subcommittee (ALCB)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Pennsylvania State University
Other Domestic Higher Education
University Park
United States
Zip Code
Marszalec, William; Yeh, Jay Z; Narahashi, Toshio (2005) Desensitization of nicotine acetylcholine receptors: modulation by kinase activation and phosphatase inhibition. Eur J Pharmacol 514:83-90