Original Research Article
The Role of Higher-Level Cognitive Function in Gait: Executive Dysfunction Contributes to Fall Risk in Alzheimer’s DiseaseSheridan P.L.a, b · Hausdorff J.M.b, c
aBehavioral Neurology Division, Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and bDivision on Aging, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., USA; cMovement Disorders Unit, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center; Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Pamela Sheridan, MD, MMSc
Behavioral Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is generally understood as primarily affecting cognition while sparing motor function, at least until the later stages of the disease. Studies reported over the past 10 years, however, have documented a prevalence of falls in AD patients significantly higher than in age-matched normal elders; also persons with AD have been observed to have different walking patterns with characteristics that increase gait instability. Recent work in cognitive neuroscience has begun to demonstrate the necessity of intact cognition, particularly executive function, for competent motor control. We put the pieces of this puzzle together and review the current state of knowledge about gait and cognition in general along with an exploration of the association between dementia, gait impairment and falls in AD. We also briefly examine the current treatment of gait instability in AD, mainly exercise, and propose a new approach targeting cognition.
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