There is a freely accessible paper in the journal Gerontology by Bahureska and colleagues looking at the relationship between mild cognitive impairment, balance and gait. Strictly speaking, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) describes a condition which is intermediate between normal cognitive functioning and Dementia. MCI can spontaneously improve, stabilise or progress to Dementia (The reader interested in MCI can read more about it in this article by Petersen).
Returning to Bahureska and colleagues, they undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies using ‘instrumented motor performance assessments’ in people with mild cognitive impairment. They identified 14 studies for inclusion.
There were a number of interesting findings
- Gait velocity differed between people with MCI and non-MCI controls
- Stride length differed between people with MCI and non-MCI controls
- Dual task gait velocity differed between people with MCI and non-MCI controls
The most interesting finding was that when people with MCI undertook one of three cognitive tasks during gait (dual task) there was a significant degradation in gait performance.
These findings are extremely useful for clinicians who are looking for quick tests that add to the evidence for a diagnosis.
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