Diagnosis of cognitive disorders may be predicted by differences in walking patterns

In the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s & Dementia, a team of Canadian researchers explained how it is possible to predict the diagnosis of dementia among the elderly, by merely differentiating walking patterns.

As published by the Lawson Health Research Institute, their study focused on the walking patterns of 500 participants, while also examining their brain function.

The study evaluated motor performance, comparing gait impairments among the participants to try and establish a diagnosis for the different types of neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

According to the researchers: “Four independent gait patterns were identified: rhythm, pace, variability and postural control. Only high gait variability was associated with lower cognitive performance and it identified Alzheimer’s disease with 70 per cent accuracy. Gait variability means the stride-to-stride fluctuations in distance and timing that happen when we walk.”

“This is the first strong evidence showing that gait variability is an important marker for processes happening in areas of the brain that are linked to both cognitive impairment and motor control,” said Frederico Perruccini-Faria, the first author of the study.

“We’ve shown that high gait variability as a marker of this cognitive-cortical dysfunction can reliably identify Alzheimer’s disease compared to other neurodegenerative disorders,” Perruccini-Faria concluded.

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