Problems associated with gait can predict a significant decline in memory and thinking, a new study has found.
Using computerised analyses, researchers at Mayo Clinic in the US measured gait parameters such as stride length, ambulatory time, gait speed, step count, cadence, stance time and arm swing.
They examined medical records of residents from Olmsted County in the US, who were between ages 70 to 89 as of October 1, 2004 using the Rochester Epidemiology Project.
The analysis included 3,426 cognitively normal participants enrolled in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging who had a complete gait and neuropsychological assessment.
Alterations in several gait parameters were associated with decline in memory, thinking and language skills, and visual perception of the spatial relationship of objects.
The study results also supported the role of computerised analysis because the computer tool detected modifications before impairment was detected with a standard neuropsychological test.
"The presence of gait disturbances increases with advancing age and affects the independence of daily living, especially in the elderly," said lead author Rodolfo Savica from Mayo.
"Computerised gait analysis is a simple, noninvasive test that potentially could be used to identify patients at high risk for cognitive decline and to target appropriate therapies," said Savica.
The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
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