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Vol. 29, No. 2, 2010
Issue release date: April 2010
Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2010;29:109–114

Effects of a Physical Training Programme on Cognitive Function and Walking Efficiency in Elderly Persons with Dementia

Kemoun G. · Thibaud M. · Roumagne N. · Carette P. · Albinet C. · Toussaint L. · Paccalin M. · Dugué B.
Departments of aPhysical Medicine and Rehabilitation and bGeriatrics, University Hospital of Poitiers, and cLaboratoire des Adaptations Physiologiques aux Activités Physiques – EA 3813, and dLaboratoire Performance, Motricité et Cognition, MSHS, University of Poitiers, Poitiers, France

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Objectives: To study the effects of physical stimulation based on walking exercises, equilibrium and endurance on cognitive function and walking efficiency in patients with dementia. Methods: Randomized controlled trial including 31 subjects suffering from dementia (age: 81.8 ± 5.3 years). The intervention group (n = 16) benefited from a 15-week physical activity programme involving three 1-hour sessions per week. The control group (n = 15) did not practice any physical activities. Before and after rehabilitation, all subjects were evaluated with the Rapid Evaluation of Cognitive Functions test (ERFC French version) and walking analysis. Results: After the 15 weeks of rehabilitation, the subjects from the intervention group improved their overall ERFC score (p < 0.01), while those in the control group decreased their overall ERFC score. Interactions were also observed between walking parameters and groups (p < 0.01); the intervention group improved walking capacities through heightened walking speed, stride length and a reduction in double limb support time. Lastly, the subjects from the control group presented a reduction in both walking speed and stride length. Conclusion: This study shows that a physical activity programme can slow cognitive decline and improve quality of walking in elderly persons suffering from dementia.

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