The aim of this study was to examine the effect of mental fatigue on postural sway under different sensory conditions in healthy older adults and in persons with chronic stroke (PwCS). Thirty healthy older adults (> 60 years old), randomly separated into experimental and control groups, as well as 15 PwCS participated in this study. Experimental groups were asked to stand on a force platform wearing seven inertial sensors while performing the Sensory Organization Test (SOT) under two cognitive conditions (single- and dual-task) before and after a mental fatigue task (stop-signal task for 60 min). The control group performed the same protocol before and after watching a movie for 60 min. Changes in subjective fatigue was assessed by the NASA Task Load Index and psychophysiological workload was assessed by heart rate variability (HRV). Postural sway was assessed by calculating the Jerk and root mean square (RMS) of center of mass (COM). Higher Jerk and RMS of COM (p
< 0.05) were observed after the mental fatigue task in both healthy older adults and PwCS during SOT, which was not observed in the control group (p
> 0.05). Additionally, postural sway increased in the three groups as the SOT conditions became more challenging. Our results indicate that mental fatigue, induced by sustained cognitive activity, can impair balance during SOT in older adult and stroke populations.
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