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The Potential of Gait Analysis to Contribute to Differential Diagnosis of Early Stage Dementia: Current Research and Future Directions*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 March 2010

Debra Morgan
Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture/Institute of Agricultural Rural and Environmental Health
Melanie Funk
Victoria Hospital, Prince Albert, SK
Margaret Crossley
University of Saskatchewan
Jenny Basran
University of Saskatchewan
Andrew Kirk
University of Saskatchewan
Vanina Dal Bello-Haas
University of Saskatchewan
E-mail address:


Early differential diagnosis of dementia is becoming increasingly important as new pharmacologic therapies are developed, as these treatments are not equally effective for all types of dementia. Early detection and differential diagnosis also facilitates informed family decision making and timely access to appropriate services. Information about gait characteristics is informative in the diagnostic process and may have important implications for discriminating among dementia subtypes. The aim of this review paper is to summarize existing research examining the relationships between gait and dementia, including gait classification systems and assessment tools, gait patterns characteristic of different dementias (Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy Bodies, and fronto-temporal dementia), and the utility of gait analysis in early-stage diagnosis. The paper concludes with implications for future research.


Le diagnostic différentiel précoce entre les formes de démence revêt de plus en plus d'importance au fil de l'émergence de nouveaux traitements médicamenteux qui sont efficaces dans certaines formes de démence et pas dans d'autres. La détection et le diagnostic différentiel précoces ont également pour avantages de permettre à la famille de prendre des décisions éclairées et de faciliter l'accès opportun aux services appropriés. Les caractéristiques de la démarche sont l'un des éléments essentiels du diagnostic et cette information serait utile dans la distinction entre les formes de démence. Le présent exposé de synthèse fait le point sur la recherche concernant le lien entre la démarche et la démence en présentant notamment des systèmes de classification et des méthodes d'évaluation de la démarche, les caractéristiques de la démarche selon le type de démences, dont la maladie d'Alzheimer, la démence vasculaire, la démence à corps de Lewy et la démence frontotemporale, et l'utilité de l'analyse de la démarche dans le diagnostic à un stade précoce. L'exposé se termine par les perspectives de la recherche à l'avenir.

Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2007

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Thanks to Allison Cammer, Maxine Holmqvist, Lisa Lejbak, and Tasha Thornhill for their contributions to preparing this manuscript. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Institute of Aging, Institute of Health Services and Policy Research, Rural and Northern Health Initiative), the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, and the University of Saskatchewan.


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