Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Monograph

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Kinesiology

Supervisor

Montero-Odasso, Manuel M.

Abstract

The objectives of this thesis were 1) to assess feasibility and practicality of gait performance to help differentiate cognitive diagnoses, 2) to assess differences in gait speed and dual-task gait cost across the cognitive spectrum, and 3) to determine if poor baseline gait performance is associated with future cognitive decline, all within a clinical setting. Patients at the Aging Brain and Memory Clinic completed gait assessment, consisting of a usual gait trial and three dual-task gait trials, in addition to cognitive and clinical assessments. Patients who had two clinic visits during the study period were also included in a longitudinal analysis. Gait speed decreased across the cognitive spectrum and was associated with a more severe cognitive impairment. Dual-task gait performance on the naming animals condition was also associated with future cognitive decline. This thesis presents an investigation of gait performance in a clinical setting with a large diverse cohort.

Summary for Lay Audience

This thesis explores the usefulness and feasibility of using a dual-task test, or “walking while talking” test, to predict which patients in memory clinics are at higher risk of progressing to dementia. In the past, it has been shown that patients with a more pronounced slowdown when walking and talking (when compared to just walking) may be more likely to progress to dementia, but this test has not been thoroughly studied in a clinic setting. We performed this test on patients who were attending the memory clinic at Parkwood Institute for evaluation of their memory concerns. We found that this test was feasible to complete, as a large majority of patients were able to complete the test. We also found that participants with slow walking speed and those who further slowed down when dual-tasking were more likely to have been diagnosed with dementia and may be more likely to decline in the following years. While we would need a larger study with more participants for each diagnosis and a longer follow-up period to better understand this relationship, these results show that dual-task gait testing in a clinical setting may be useful in better evaluating risk of dementia.

Available for download on Wednesday, June 30, 2021

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