Purpose: To estimate the prevalence of neurological signs and their association with limitations in mobility and falls in a sample of older persons without known neurological disease.
Methods: A neurologist examined 818 participants from the InCHIANTI study who were aged > or =65 years and who did not have cognitive impairment, treatment with neuroleptics, and a history of neurological disease. Mobility was assessed as walking speed and self-reported ability to walk at least 1 km without difficulty. Participants were asked to report falls that had occurred in the previous 12 months.
Results: Less than 20% (160/818) of participants had no neurological signs. Neurological signs were more prevalent in older participants and those with impaired mobility. When all neurological signs were included in sex-and age-adjusted multivariate models, 10 were mutually independent correlates of poor mobility. After adjusting for age and sex, the number of neurological signs was associated with progressively slower walking speed (P <0.001), a higher probability of reported inability to walk 1 km (P <0.001), and a history of falls (P <0.05).
Conclusion: Neurological signs are independent correlates of limitations in mobility and falls in older persons who have no clear history of neurological disease.