The Association between Gait Speed and Falls in Community Dwelling Older Adults with and without Mild Cognitive Impairment

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Apr 2;18(7):3712. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18073712.


(1) Background: Falls are common in older adults and result in injuries, loss of independence, and death. Slow gait is associated with falls in older adults, but few studies have assessed the association between gait speed and falls among those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). (2) Methods: The association between gait speed and falls was assessed in 2705 older adults with and without MCI participating in the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory Study. Gait speed was measured via a 15-foot walk test and fall history through self-report. We used data collected at the 12-month (2001-2003) and 18-month visits (2002-2004). (3) Results: Participant average age was 78.5 years (sd = 3.2); 45% were female, and 14% had MCI at baseline. The average gait speed was 0.93 m/s (sd = 0.20). Sixteen percent (n = 433) and 18% (n = 498) reported at least one fall at the 12-month and 18-month visits, respectively. Faster gait speed was associated with decreased risk of falling (RR: 0.95, 95% CI: 0.91, 0.99) for every 10 cm/s increase in gait speed adjusted for age, gender, study arm, site, and MCI status. (4) Conclusions: The relationship between gait speed and risk of falling did not vary by MCI status (interaction p-value = 0.78).

Keywords: falls; gait speed; mild cognitive impairment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Male
  • Walking Speed*