Feasibility of dual-task gait to estimate Alzheimer's related cognitive decline in Down syndrome

Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2020 Aug 25;12(1):e12092. doi: 10.1002/dad2.12092. eCollection 2020.


Introduction: The striatum and frontal lobes have been shown to have early Alzheimer's disease (AD) neuropathology and are critical for motor and cognitive function. We hypothesized gait would be associated with early-stage dementia in Down syndrome (DS), a cohort at risk for AD.

Methods: Twenty-eight participants with DS were enrolled in the study. Participants walked at their self-selected pace and while completing a dual task (counting, obstacle, or counting+obstacle).

Results: All participants were able to complete the self-paced condition and 78.57-96.42% completed the dual-task conditions. There was a trend for greater dual-task effects on gait velocity based on dementia diagnosis. Gait velocity had stronger associations with clinical dementia assessments than age or diagnosis.

Discussion: A dual-task gait paradigm is feasible to conduct with adults with DS and is associated with age and cognitive impairment. Dual-task gait may serve as an indicator of early stage dementia in DS.

Keywords: aging; dementia; dual‐task effect; gait speed; trisomy21.