How you walk a curved line might reveal cognitive decline

Those with MCI are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia

It’s estimated that roughly 10% to 20% of people over age 65 have mild cognitive impairment. Those with MCI are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University have linked early cognitive decline to how someone walks or stands. The study included 55 participants, 25 with MCI and 30 without, and those with difficulty walking along a curve showed early signs connected to MCI.

“For this study, researchers used gait analysis to look for differences between healthy older adults and older adults with mild cognitive impairment,” Medical News Today wrote.

Typical cognitive assessments tend to focus on memory, problem-solving, and attention skills through a series of mental evaluations and testing. Gait analysis offers a different perspective, showcasing how MCI can be detected in ways that don’t involve cognitive testing via computer or writing tests.

Senior author Dr. Behnaz Ghoraani, associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and co-director of the Center for SMART Health at Florida Atlantic University, told Medical News Today that “gait analysis offers a unique window into neurological health.”

“Curved walking, on the other hand, introduces a higher level of complexity due to the need for continuous adjustment of balance, direction, and speed,” Ghoraani said.

The study showed 62% of participants who had MCI tended to walk with both feet on the ground during the curve assessment, often known as “double support time.”

Researchers said they are confident the connection is a start to helping prevent and treat cognitive diseases in a timely manner.

“Early detection is crucial because it opens the door to interventions that can delay or mitigate the progression towards more severe cognitive disorders,” Ghoraani said.