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Inner ear damage leaves Alzheimer’s patients at risk for falls: study

People with Alzheimer’s disease, fall at twice the rate compared with healthy older adults, and this often leads to injury, nursing home placement and early mortality,” says study author.

(Dave Yasvinski/ Healthing) –– A new study has found that inner ear impairment plays a major role in the increased risk of falling faced by Alzheimer’s patients.

The research, conducted at Johns Hopkins Medicine and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease , found that patients with faulty vestibular systems — the sensory system within the ear that informs your brain about balance — had a risk of falling that was 50 per cent greater than Alzheimer’s patients with normal vestibular function. The study is believed to be the first to link the chances of these patients losing their balance with inner-ear issues.

“We call the vestibular system the sixth hidden sense because it functions almost at a subconscious level,” said Yuri Agrawal , the study’s senior author and a professor of otolaryngology — head and neck surgery at the Johns Hopkins Medicine University School of Medicine. “It’s always ‘on’ and operates normally to keep us oriented as we move through space, sensing what’s up and what’s down and around us.” (…)