The reports showed that walking disorders could be an early warning that cognitive decline is underway among elderly people.
Three studies with a combined sample of 4,000 people found that the rhythm and size of steps changed with neurological illness, be it Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer's disease.
A report published in International Science Times shows how the slower pace and change in walking pattern were linked to decline in mental skills, including memory and executive function loss.
While one study was undertaken at Basel Mobility Center in Switzerland, led by Dr Stephanie Bridenbaugh with a sample of nearly 1,200 elderly outpatients another study with 1,300 patients was undertaken at Mayo Clinic Study of Aging led by Dr Rodolfo Savico. A third study was undertaken by a Japanese team from the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Sendai, led by Kenichi Meguro. The Japanese study focused on 525 women and men aged 75 and older.
Quoting Dr Rodolfo Savica a statement from the Mayo Clinic said, The results support a possible role of gait changes as an early predictor of cognitive impairment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites Alzheimer's disease as the most common form of dementia in the United States, affecting over 5 million people. The number is pegged to double every 20 years with increase in population, the International Science Times reported.
The Alzheimer's Association puts healthcare costs related to the disease totalling to almost $8 billion in 2010. Medical practitioners are yet to find a cure for Alzheimer's. The American Government led by Barack Obama has earmarked $450 million annually to find a cure for the disease and has pledged an additional $50 million on dementia research.