A recent study has revealed that a person’s dexterity can be negatively affected, even when the blood alcohol level is below the legal limit for driving.
A team of researchers carried out tests on 13 healthy individuals who on averave were 62 years old to learn how the elderly react to sudden obstacles when they are behind the wheel and have had something alcoholic to drink.
According to Science Daily, the elderly volunteers were asked to consume two single vodka and orange drinks and then carry out an obstacle avoidance test, which involved them walking on a treadmill. As soon as they reached a steady walking pace, a wooden plank was placed at the end of the treadmill and allowed to move towards the indiviual. The researchers measured how capable the subjects were of stepping over the plank.
As quoted on www.physorg.com, Judith Hegeman, lead researcher said, “We found that alcohol levels, considered to be safe for driving, seriously hamper the ability to successfully avoid sudden obstacles in the travel path. A possible limitation of this study is the relatively small sample size, however even with the small number, it yielded an unequivocal outcome.
“The results clearly show that even with low blood alcohol concentrations, reactions to sudden gait perturbations are seriously affected. After ingestion of 2 alcoholic drinks, obstacles were hit twice as often, response times were delayed and response amplitudes were reduced. These changes were most obvious in situations with little available response time.”
Images: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=download&id=779874, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1181511