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Walking can be a key clinical tool for helping physicians more accurately identify the specific type of dementia a patient has, pioneering research has revealed.
For the first time, scientists at Newcastle University have shown that people with Alzheimer's disease or Lewy body dementia have unique walking patterns that signal the subtle differences between the two conditions.
A study published today in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association shows that people with Levi's body dementia change their walking steps more ̵
1; with different time and length of step – and are asymmetrical when moving compared to those with Alzheimer's disease.
is the first significant step towards establishing a gait as a clinical biomarker for various disease subtypes and may lead to improved patient treatment plans.
A useful diagnostic tool
Dr. Riona McArdell, a PhD student at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Newcastle, leads the Alzheimer-funded community.
She said, "The way we go can reflect changes in thinking and memory that highlight problems in our brains, such as. dementia.
"Proper identification of what type of dementia someone has is important for clinicians and researchers as it allows patients to be assigned the most appropriate treatment for their needs.
" The results of this study are as exciting as they suggest that walking can be a useful tool to add to the Dementia Diagnostic Toolkit.
"This is a key development because a more accurate diagnosis means that we know that people are getting the right treatment, care and management for the dementia they have. "
The current diagnosis of both types of dementia is made by identifying different symptoms and brain scans as needed.
For the study, researchers analyzed a walk of 110 people, including 29 adults whose knowledge is intact, 36 with the disease of Alzheimer's and 45 with Lewy body dementia.
Participants participated in a simple walking test in the laboratory of gait of the Clinical Aging Research Unit, a NIHR funded research initiative jointly led by Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundat ion Trust and Newcastle University.
Participants walked a pedestrian path – a mat with thousands of sensors inside – that captured their footsteps as they passed at their normal speed and this revealed
People with Lewy body dementia have a unique walking pattern as they change how long it takes to take a step or the length of their steps more often than someone with Alzheimer's disease, whose walking patterns rarely change.  When a person has Lewy body dementia, their steps are more irregular and are associated with an increased risk of falling. Walking them is more asymmetrical in stride and stride length, which means that their left and right steps look different from one another.
Scientists have found that by analyzing both the variability of stride length and the asymmetry of stride time, it can identify exactly 60% of all subtypes of dementia – never shown so far.
Further work will aim to identify how these features improve current diagnostic procedures and to evaluate their applicability as a screening method. We hope this tool will be available in the NHS within five years.
A pioneering study
Dr. James Pickett, head of research at Alzheimer's Society, says: "In this well-conducted study, we can see for the first time that the path we are taking may provide clues that could help us distinguish between Alzheimer's disease and Lewy body dementia.
“This research – funded by the Alzheimer's Society – is a pioneer in dementia. This is a promise to help establish a new approach to accurately diagnose different types of dementia.
"We know that research will overcome dementia and provide invaluable support to the 850,000 people living with the condition in the UK today. It is now vital that we continue to support promising research of this kind.
"We look forward to seeing larger, longer studies that validate this approach and shed light on the link between human walking and the diagnosis of dementia."
Dementia describes various brain disorders that cause loss. of brain function and these conditions are usually progressive and ultimately severe.
It is estimated by the Alzheimer's Society that people living with dementia in the UK will grow to more than one million by 2025.
Future research at the University of Newcastle will consider alternative methods of gait assessment as part of the project € 50 digital monitoring for mobilized monitoring designed to develop a system There will be sensors that can be worn throughout the body to judge how well you walk – a sign of health and well-being. Living with Lewy Body Dementia
A father of four and a grandfather of two John Tinkler has lived with Lewy body dementia for the past three years.
The 70-year-old, of Langley Park, Durham County, was diagnosed after having difficulty walking when he began to stir his legs
John, his wife Jenny, 59, and the rest of their family learned to cope with a difficult diagnosis and had to adjust their lifestyles accordingly.
Jenny, a physical therapist, said: "Since John's diagnosis, things have been difficult and over the years he has gotten worse to the point where he gets tired easily, which affects his mobility, balance and coordination and he struggles to In addition, he has joint pain and muscle cramps. "
" When asked if John would like to participate in the Newcastle University study, we did not hesitate to say yes because he was important for people to make their own
"The results of the study are exciting, because they can help definitively diagnose the dementia subtype, allowing patients to be in the right management program as early as possible.
"If patients and their families are aware of the specific type of dementia they are coping with, this gives them a better understanding of the specific needs of the person living with the condition.
" We are extremely fortunate to live in the area where aging research is among the best out there. It would be fantastic if a screening tool like this one is available in the NHIF for patients with dementia. "
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Alzheimer's and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association DOI: 10.1016 / j.jalz.2019.06.4953
University of Newcastle
Walking patterns for the first time identify specific types of dementia (2019, September 19)
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