Can a 20-Second Balance Test Indicate Brain Health?

HealthDay News — Having poor balance could indicate cerebral small vessel disease, according to research published in Stroke.

Yasuharu Tabara, PhD, an associate professor in the Center for Genomic Medicine at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, and colleagues had 1,387 men and women, average age 67, try to balance on one leg for a minute. The researchers also used magnetic resonance imaging to assess cerebral small-vessel disease in the form of lacunar infarction and microbleeds.

The researchers found that the inability to balance on one leg for 20 seconds or longer was linked to having had lacunar infarctions and microbleeds. Balance problems were also associated with reduced cognitive function.

“Individuals showing instability while standing on one leg, as well as problems walking, should receive increased attention, as this physical frailty may signal potential brain abnormalities and mental decline,” Tabara told HealthDay.


  1. Tabara Y et al. Stroke. 2014; doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.006704.