Objective: We analyzed temporal and stride characteristics in patients with myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) and type 2 (DM2) while performing dual mental and motor tasks, and investigated correlations between gait parameters and cognitive impairments.
Method: Dual-task walking was performed by 37 patients (20 DM1 and 17 DM2) and 48 healthy subjects divided into two groups, age- and gender-matched control group for DM1 (HC1) and age- and gender-matched control group for DM2 (HC2). The subjects performed a basic walking task, dual-motor task, dual-mental task, and combined motor and mental task.
Results: DM1 and DM2 patients differed significantly in temporal and stride characteristics compared to HC. Main differences in DM1 were slower gait and shorter stride length, while both DM1 and DM2 patients had a higher degree of variation of the swing time during dual-task gait, a parameter that reflects posture and balance. Impact of the cognitive dual task on gait pattern changes was also observed. Visuospatial ability correlated with gait changes in DM1, while executive functions had stronger influence in DM2 (p<0.01). Both patient groups had leg muscle weakness.
Conclusion: Gait pattern was impaired in both patient groups concerning temporal and stride characteristics. Dual-task walking paradigm may discover mild initial gait changes and could provide early identification of fall risks and predict possible falls in DM patients.
Keywords: Cognitive task; GAITRite walkway system; Myotonic dystrophy type 1; Myotonic dystrophy type 2; Temporal and stride parameters.
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