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PLoS One. 2017 Jun 1;12(6):e0178566. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0178566. eCollection 2017.

Gait characteristics under different walking conditions: Association with the presence of cognitive impairment in community-dwelling older people.

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Department of Geriatric Medicine, General Hospital St Maarten, Mechelen, Belgium.
Department of Geriatrics and Department of Primary and Interdisciplinary Care (ELIZA), University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.
StatUa Center for Statistics, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.
Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Centre of excellence on aging and chronic disease (CEViMaC), McGill University, Montreal, Canada.



Gait characteristics measured at usual pace may allow profiling in patients with cognitive problems. The influence of age, gender, leg length, modified speed or dual tasking is unclear.


Cross-sectional analysis was performed on a data registry containing demographic, physical and spatial-temporal gait parameters recorded in five walking conditions with a GAITRite® electronic carpet in community-dwelling older persons with memory complaints. Four cognitive stages were studied: cognitively healthy individuals, mild cognitive impaired patients, mild dementia patients and advanced dementia patients.


The association between spatial-temporal gait characteristics and cognitive stages was the most prominent: in the entire study population using gait speed, steps per meter (translation for mean step length), swing time variability, normalised gait speed (corrected for leg length) and normalised steps per meter at all five walking conditions; in the 50-to-70 years old participants applying step width at fast pace and steps per meter at usual pace; in the 70-to-80 years old persons using gait speed and normalised gait speed at usual pace, fast pace, animal walk and counting walk or steps per meter and normalised steps per meter at all five walking conditions; in over-80 years old participants using gait speed, normalised gait speed, steps per meter and normalised steps per meter at fast pace and animal dual-task walking. Multivariable logistic regression analysis adjusted for gender predicted in two compiled models the presence of dementia or cognitive impairment with acceptable accuracy in persons with memory complaints.


Gait parameters in multiple walking conditions adjusted for age, gender and leg length showed a significant association with cognitive impairment. This study suggested that multifactorial gait analysis could be more informative than using gait analysis with only one test or one variable. Using this type of gait analysis in clinical practice could facilitate screening for cognitive impairment.

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