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Is the way you walk a sign of dementia?

16 July 2012

Is the way you walk a sign of dementia?

A recent study has shown that the speed we walk can indicate whether we will go on to develop dementia in later life.
The study, conducted by Dr Erica Camargo at the Boston Medical Centre, took brain scans and recorded walking speed, along with grip strength, of over 2,410 participants with an average of age 62. 11 years later, 34 people went on to develop dementia and 79 had a stroke.It has been concluded that there could be a link between slow walking and a high risk of developing dementia while a stronger grip can mean a lower risk of having a stroke.
Obviously more testing is required in the area to determine a stronger relationship but the fact that this relationship is even a possibility is a step forward. If the connection is proven then there could be yet another way of predicting the condition, thereby utilising more effective preventative therapies.

Dr Sharlin Ahmed from the Stroke Association said, “Around a third of those who have a stroke are left with some kind of physical disability, including hand weakness and difficulty walking. However, this is the first time we have seen research that looks at the presence of
related symptoms before a stroke.”

Dr Marie Janson, director of development at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Although this study has yet to be published in full, it does raise some important questions about whether physical problems, such as difficulty walking, could precede other symptoms associated with dementia. Further study could shed new insight into how walking speed and dementia may be linked.”