Subjective Memory Impairment and Gait Variability in Cognitively Healthy Individuals: Results from a Cross-Sectional Pilot Study

Olivier Beauchet, Cyrille P Launay, Julia Chabot, Elise J Levinoff, Gilles Allali
Journal of Alzheimer's Disease: JAD 2017, 55 (3): 965-971

BACKGROUND: Increased stride time variability has been associated with memory impairment in mild cognitive impairment. Subjective memory impairment (SMI) is considered the earliest clinical stage of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The association between increased stride time variability and SMI has not been reported.

OBJECTIVE: This study aims to examine the association of stride time variability while performing single and dual tasking with SMI in cognitively healthy individuals (CHI).

METHODS: A total of 126 CHI (15 without SMI, 69 with SMI expressed by participants, 10 with SMI expressed by participant's relative, and 32 with SMI expressed by both participants and their relatives) were included in this cross-sectional study. The coefficient of variation (CoV) of stride time and walking speed were recorded under usual condition and while counting backwards. Age, gender, body mass index, number of drugs taken daily, use of psychoactive drugs, fear of falling, history of previous falls, and walking speed were used as covariates.

RESULTS: The multiple linear regression models showed that greater CoV of stride time while counting backwards, but not while single tasking, was associated with a participant's relative SMI (p = 0.038).

CONCLUSION: This study found a specific association between SMI expressed by a participant's relative and a greater CoV of stride time (i.e., worse performance) while dual tasking, suggesting that the association between gait variability and memory may be present in the earliest stages of memory impairment. Thus, gait variability under dual-task in individuals with SMI expressed by their relatives can be a potential biomarker of AD.

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