Published July 16, 2012
Small changes in a person’s gait can be an early indicator of cognitive decline, USA Today reported.
Up until recently, doctors had to diagnose patients based on cognition and neurological exams.
However, a series of five studies show changes in walking can occur even before mental symptoms appear.
In May, the U.S. government announced it was making an effort to train doctors in earlier detection in hopes of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s by the year 2025.
The disease affects 5.4 million people in the U.S., but that number is expected to increase by the year 2050 to 16 million.
"Monitoring deterioration and other changes in a person's gait is ideal because it doesn't require any expensive technology or take a lot of time to assess," says Bill Thies, chief medical and scientific officer for the Alzheimer's Association.
Experts say a patient’s walking changes because Alzheimer’s interferes with the “circuitry between areas of the brain,” according to the newspaper article.