In new research recently revealed at the Alzheimer’s Association international conference, researchers showed that slight changes in how a person walks can be indicative of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers say their survey of scientific studies on walking and Alzheimer’s can aid in the detection of the disease even before someone suffers from the cognitive decline associated with it.
The researchers looked at several studies conducted at various research facilities, such as the Mayo Clinic and the Basel Mobility Center of Basel, Switzerland. In those studies researchers looked at how seniors walked by measuring their cadences, stride length, and walking velocity. The studies monitored patients for several months or more, and during that time those who experienced a change in gait, velocity, or walking pattern had the most significant decrease in cognitive capacity.
The researchers say that walking requires the brain to utilize several key areas. To walk efficiently, these areas of the brain must be able to efficiently communicate with one another. As Alzheimer’s begins affecting the communication pathways in the brain, walking becomes more difficult because the brain is having difficulty keeping the parts in touch. Though there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, early detection can lead to far more effective treatment programs as medication can slow the progress of the disease.