According to a study from the Mayo Clinic recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, problems associated with gait may predict a significant decline in memory and thinking among patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

In the study, titled “Comparison of Gait Parameters for Predicting Cognitive Decline: The Mayo Clinic Study of Aging,” Mayo Clinic researchers used the Rochester Epidemiology Project to examine medical records from Olmstead County, Minnesota, residents who were between the ages of 70 and 89 as of October 1, 2004.

The analysis included 3,426 cognitively normal participants enrolled in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging who had a complete gait and neuropsychological assessment, according to a media release from Mayo Clinic.

Using computerized analyses, the researchers measured such gait parameters as stride length, ambulatory time, gait speed, step count, cadence, stance time, and arm swing.

Alterations in several gait parameters were associated with decline in memory, thinking and language skills, and visual perception of the spatial relationship of objects, according to the release.

“The presence of gait disturbances increases with advancing age and affects the independence of daily living, especially in the elderly,” says neurologist Rodolfo Savica, MD, the study’s lead author. “Computerized 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.”

[Source(s): Mayo Clinic, Newswise]