Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Gait and Cognition

Slower gait, slower information processing and smaller prefrontal area in older adults
Age Ageing. 2011 Sep 28;
Rosano C, Studenski SA, Aizenstein HJ, Boudreau RM, Longstreth WT, Newman AB

Abstract

BACKGROUND: slower gait in older adults is related to smaller volume of the prefrontal area (PFAv). The pathways underlying this association have not yet been explored. Understanding slowing gait could help improve function in older age. We examine whether the association between smaller PFAv and slower gait is explained by lower performance on numerous neuropsychological tests.Hypothesis: we hypothesise that slower information processing explains this association, while tests of language or memory will not. METHODS: data on brain imaging, neuropsychological tests (information processing speed, visuospatial attention, memory, language, mood) and time to walk 15 feet were obtained in 214 adults (73.3 years, 62% women) free from stroke and dementia. Covariates included central (white matter hyperintensities, vision) and peripheral contributors of gait (vibration sense, muscle strength, arthritis, body mass index), demographics (age, race, gender, education), as well as markers of prevalent vascular diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes and ankle arm index). RESULTS: in linear regression models, smaller PFAv was associated with slower time to walk independent of covariates. This association was no longer significant after adding information processing speed to the model. None of the other neuropsychological tests significantly attenuated this association. CONCLUSIONS: we conclude that smaller PFAv may contribute to slower gait through slower information processing. Future longitudinal studies are warranted to examine the casual relationship between focal brain atrophy with slowing in information processing and gait.

PMID: 21965414 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]


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Gait and cognition: The relationship between gait stability and variability with executive function in persons with and without dementia
Gait Posture. 2011 Oct 1;
Ijmker T, Lamoth CJ

Abstract

Besides cognitive decline, dementia is characterized by gait changes and increased fall risk, also in early stages of the disease. The aim of this study was to investigate differences in the relationship between executive function and gait variability and stability during single task and dual task walking in persons with and without dementia. The study sample consisted of three groups: fifteen dementia patients (aged 75-87), fourteen healthy elderly (aged 75-85), and twelve relatively younger elderly (aged 55-70). Participants underwent neuropsychological testing and tests of single and dual task walking while wearing an accelerometer. Outcome measures include stride related measures such as mean and coefficient of variation of stride time, and dynamic measures regarding the magnitude, smoothness, predictability and local stability of trunk accelerations. Patients with dementia exhibited a significantly (p<.05) less variable, but more irregular trunk acceleration pattern than cognitively intact elderly on single and dual task walking. The walking pattern during dual tasking for the whole group became increasingly unstable, even though participants modified their gait pattern by slowing their walking speed, and decreasing the magnitude of trunk accelerations. Moderate to high correlations (r>.51) were found between executive tasks and gait parameters. In conclusion, these findings indicate that decreased executive function plays an important role in increased gait variability in dementia patients; a fact that should be considered when designing fall risk interventions for this population. Furthermore, results indicate that measures of gait variability and stability should be deemed worthwhile in the diagnosis of dementia.

PMID: 21964053 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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