New research studies released at the Alzheimer’s Association’s International Conference 2012 in Vancouver suggest that observing and measuring gait changes could be a valuable tool for signaling the need for further cognitive evaluation. The exciting part of this research is that it gives busy doctors a simple tool with which to aid diagnosis and record treatment effects or disease progression. By having a patient walk the length of the corridor and looking for gait abnormalities could be an early predictor of cognitive impairment.
The Rotterdam study was fascinating in that it associated gait patterns with certain cognitive domains.
Information processing speed was associated with the Rhythm aspect of gait.
Executive function was associated with Pace and Variability.
Fine motor speed was associated with Tandem
Memory was not associated with any aspect of gait.
It is interesting to speculate whether improving your gait through brisk walking exercise would have a positive impact on specific cognitive functioning. It suggests that a brisk morning walk might be just what the doctor ordered!