DOI: 10.1002/alz.071602 ISSN: 1552-5260

Associations of Gait and Cognitive Impairment and Dementia in Individuals with Down Syndrome

Aline Souza Gonçalves, Guilherme Prado Mattar, Livea Carla Fidalgo Sant'Ana, Maria de Fátima Rebouças da Silva, Luana Dongue Martinez, Vanessa V.J. De‐Paula, Claudia Lopes Carvalho, Alexandra Martine, Luciana Mascarenhas Fonseca, Orestes Vicente Forlenza
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Health Policy
  • Epidemiology



Life expectancy of individuals with Down syndrome (DS) has increased considerably over the years. Atypical aging in Down syndrome (DS) is associated with neuropathological characteristics consistent with Alzheimer disease (AD). Significant gait alterations are associated with an increased risk of dementia for the general population. The aim of this study was to determine whether gait performance is associated with cognitive performance and dementia in adults with DS.


This study included 66 individuals with DS over 20 years of age, divided into three diagnostic groups: stable cognition, prodromal dementia, and dementia. They were evaluated with the Performance‐Oriented Mobility Assessment (POMA), Timed Up and Go test, and Cambridge Examination for Mental Disorders of Older People with Down’s Syndrome and Others with Intellectual Disabilities (CAMDEX‐DS), which includes the Cambridge Cognitive Examination (CAMCOG). Logistic regression model was used to assess the effects of gait and balance on the diagnosis (prodromal dementia and dementia versus stable cognition) adjusting for age, sex, body mass index (BMI), degree of intellectual disability and physical inactivity.


The score on the POMA‐Gait subscale score and body mass index (BMI) were found to be independent predictors of prodromal dementia and dementia (Poma‐Gait OR = 0.67, 0.53‐0.85 CI, p<0.001; and BMI OR = 1.12, 1.021.24 CI, p<0.001). A lower POMA‐Total score indicates a higher fall risk. With the exception of perception, all cognitive domains correlated with the POMA total score (P<0.05).


These data indicate that poor gait performance, as assessed by the POMA, as well as a high BMI, were associated with a diagnosis of prodromal dementia or dementia. In those individuals, applying the POMA could facilitate the early diagnosis of dementia, help identify fall risks, and promote the adoption of geriatric interventions focused on improving functional mobility. There is a need for longitudinal studies to characterize the true nature of the associations found, to validate gait instruments specifics to this population, and for future analyses in order to clarify the role that gait and balance play in cognitive decline and the development of dementia.

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