Walking Patterns in Older Adults Can Predict Type of Cognitive Decline

Group Of Smiling Senior Friends Walking Arm In Arm Along Shoreline Of Winter BeachWalking patterns in older adults can predict types of cognitive decline, according to Canadian researchers. The study involved analyzing different patterns in the way patients walk to determine different types of dementia and identify Alzheimer’s disease.

The study from Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University evaluated the walking patterns and brain function of 500 participants currently enrolled in clinical trials. The participants included people with Subjective Cognitive Impairment, Parkinson’s Disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, and Frontotemporal dementia, as well as cognitively healthy controls.


There were four independent gait patterns identified in patients: rhythm, pace, variability, and postural control. Gait is the stride-to-stride fluctuations in distance and timing that happen when walking. High gait variability was associated with lower cognitive performance, which identified Alzheimer’s disease with 70 percent accuracy.

“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,” notes Dr. Frederico Perruccini-Faria, first author on the paper. “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.”

It has been found that a person’s ability to perform multiple tasks simultaneously is impacted when cognitive-cortical dysfunction is happening. These abilities can include talking while walking or chopping vegetables while chatting with family.

Motor Performance

While there has been longstanding evidence showing that cognitive problems can be predictors of dementia, this study helps to build insight into the relationship between motor performance and diagnosis of neurodegenerative conditions.


Dr. Montero-Odasso, who helped lead the study, is known for his research on the relationship between mobility and cognitive decline in aging. He is pioneering novel diagnostic approaches and treatments to help prevent early dementia. This study can add to his mounting research on the subject.

Having gait variability as a motor marker for the cognitive decline could be used for assessment to be used as a clinical test. Dr. Montero-Odasso suggests having patients use wearable technology to track variabilities. He explains that gait is similar to arrhythmia and that health care providers could measure it in a clinic similar to how heart rhythm is assessed with electrocardiograms.

This research helps to forward the prevention techniques and treatments for those who may be at risk for memory problems, cognitive decline, and other neurological health issues. With evidence showing that motor performance, specifically the way you walk, can help diagnose different types of neurodegenerative conditions, doctors may be able to reduce symptoms before the disease takes over.

Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.



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