According to a new study by researchers at Newcastle University in the UK, people with different kinds of dementia have their own unique walking patterns. This can provide a non-invasive less expensive way to diagnose these kinds of dementias based on their gait (walking patterns). The study was published September 20, 2019 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. The research was led by Dr. Riona McArdle, Post-Doctoral Researcher at Newcastle University’s Faculty of Medical Sciences.
The study focused on the kinds of walking patterns unique to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Lewy body dementia (LBD). Alzheimer’s disease is the most commonly found dementia followed by Lewy body dementia. To learn more about Lewy body dementia see our blog post from September 5, 2019.
Many People with Dementia are Misdiagnosed
At present, many people with dementia are misdiagnosed. There is a need to find a way to accurately diagnose the specific kind of dementia the person has because treatment options, when they become available, may not be the same for all dementias. Walking patterns could be a way to make a more accurate diagnosis of different kinds of dementias.
While Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia share some of the same kinds of psychiatric and behavior problems, nonetheless, they have different causes. For instance, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is caused by a buildup in the brain of plaques of beta amyloid protein and tangles of tau protein. However, Lewy body dementia is caused by a buildup of alfa-synuclein protein in the brain that forms into Lewy bodies. People with Parkinson’s disease also have a buildup of alfa-synuclein in their brains.
The Gait Study
The Researchers analyzed the walking patterns of 110 people that included 29 seniors without dementia, 36 with Alzheimer’s disease and 45 with Lewy body dementia. The simple walking test was carried out at the Gait Lab of the Clinical Aging Research Unit jointly run by Newcastle Hospitals and Newcastle University. The participants walked six 10-meter walks along a walkway mat that contained thousands of sensors that picked up their walking patterns.
People with Lewy body dementia had a distinctive walking pattern. They changed how long it took to take a step or the length of their steps more often than someone with Alzheimer’s disease, whose walking patterns rarely changed.
The participants with Lewy body dementia were found to have more irregular steps which increased their risk for falls. Also, their left and right footsteps appeared different to each other.
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the world’s most common dementia affecting 5.7 million Americans and more than 50 million people worldwide. It is an incurable progressive disease that causes extensive memory loss, psychiatric behavior problems, personality changes and an inability to reason and function. In its advanced stages, Alzheimer’s patients may no longer recognize family members. In the last stage the patient is bed-ridden unable to do anything. Alzheimer’s causes tremendous emotional and financial stress on family members, especially spouses. Most of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s are taken care of by voluntary unpaid caregivers who are usually family members, often spouses who are also aging and have their own health problems.
Memory Care at the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse NY
The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse NY is a skilled nursing facility that has a memory care unit for treating people with Alzheimer’s disease as well as people with different kinds of dementia like Lewy body dementia. Their team includes occupational therapists, physical therapists, skilled nurses and doctors including a neurologist.
If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages, this can give you time to make plans for the future. If you are already at the point where you need to find a good memory care unit at a skilled nursing home then think about looking into Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York.