VANCOUVER—Worsening gait may be associated with a decrease in cognitive function, according to several studies presented at the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.
Stephanie Bridenbaugh, MD, and colleagues found that gait becomes slower and more variable as cognitive decline progresses. “Particularly, gait cycle time variability increases during cognitive dual tasking, compared to normal walking in those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and mild Alzheimer’s disease,” reported Dr. Bridenbaugh of the University Hospital Basel in Switzerland. “Early detection of these mobility impairments may be used as a tool to aid diagnosis of those in the earliest stages of cognitive impairment.”
Dr. Bridenbaugh’s retrospective study included 1,153 older adults (mean age, 78), including outpatients from the Memory Clinic of the University Hospital Basel. A total of 357 patients had healthy cognition, 309 had MCI, 219 had mild Alzheimer’s dementia, 230 had moderate Alzheimer’s dementia, and 38 had severe Alzheimer’s dementia. Participants’ gait was tested during normal walking as a single task and during a working memory and a semantic memory dual task.