We already know that there’s a connection between slowed walking and mental decline, but now a study suggests why. And it also may hold clues about easier and cheaper ways to test.
Researchers followed a group aged 70 to 79 for 14 years. Those who developed slowed walking during the follow-up also showed shrinkage of their right hippocampus, according to the study. That brain region that governs memory and “spatial orientation”.
That suggests that doctors should check older patients’ walking speed and watch for changes over time, since it could be an early indication of mental decline. The study authors say that typically when physicians notice a slowing gait in their patients, they refer them to physical therapy. Now they want doctors to consider the possibility of a brain pathology and refer the patient for a cognitive evaluation,”There is no cure for dementia but if it is detected early, there are treatments that can delay its progression. The findings are published in the journal Neurology.