Keeping pace: Walking speed may signal thinking problems ahead

A new study shows that changes in walking speed in late life may signal the early stages of dementia known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The research is published in the June 12, 2012, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"In our study, we used a new technique that included installing in the ceilings of homes, a system designed to detect walking movement in hallways," said study author Hiroko Dodge, PhD, with Oregon Health and Science University in Portland and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. "By using this new monitoring method, we were able to get a better idea of how even subtle changes in walking speed may correlate with the development of MCI."

The study involved 93 people age 70 or older who lived alone. Of those, 54 participants had no cognitive impairment, 31 had non-memory related MCI and eight had memory-related MCI. Participants were given memory and thinking tests and had their walking speed monitored at their homes unobtrusively over a three-year period. Participants were placed in groups of slow, moderate or fast based on their average weekly walking speed and how much their walking speed fluctuated at home.

The study found that people with non-memory related MCI were nine times more likely to be slow walkers than moderate or fast walkers and the amount of the in walking speed was also associated with MCI.

"Further studies need to be done using larger groups of participants to determine whether and its fluctuations could be a predictor of future memory and thinking problems in the elderly," said Dodge. "If we can detect at its earliest phases, then we can work to maintain people's independence, provide treatments and ultimately develop ways to prevent the disease from developing. Our in-home monitoring approach has a lot of potential to be used for sustaining independence of the elderly."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study: Men at higher risk for mild memory loss than women

Jan 25, 2012

Men may be at higher risk of experiencing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), or the stage of mild memory loss that occurs between normal aging and dementia, than women, according to a study published in the January 25, 2012, ...

Study finds mild cognitive impairment is more common in men

Sep 06, 2010

A new Mayo Clinic study found that the prevalence of mild cognitive impairment was 1.5 times higher in men than in women. The research, part of the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, also showed a prevalence rate of 16 percent in ...

Overeating may double risk of memory loss

Feb 12, 2012

New research suggests that consuming between 2,100 and 6,000 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), among people age 70 and older. The study was released today and will be ...

Recommended for you

New research supporting stroke rehabilitation

9 hours ago

Using world-leading research methods, the team of Dr David Wright and Prof Paul Holmes, working with Dr Jacqueline Williams from the Victoria University in Melbourne, studied activity in an area of the brain ...

Team finds an off switch for pain

14 hours ago

In research published in the medical journal Brain, Saint Louis University researcher Daniela Salvemini, Ph.D. and colleagues within SLU, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other academic institutions have d ...

Brain researchers pinpoint gateway to human memory

16 hours ago

An international team led by researchers of the University of Magdeburg and the DZNE has successfully determined the location, where memories are generated with a level of precision never achieved before. ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.