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A Review of the Measurement of the Neurology of Gait in Cognitive Dysfunction or Dementia, Focusing on the Application of fNIRS during Dual-Task Gait Assessment
journal contributionposted on 2023-02-09, 02:01 authored by Sophia SuiSophia Sui, Ashlee HendyAshlee Hendy, W P Teo, J T Moran, Nathan NuzumNathan Nuzum, Julie PascoJulie Pasco
Poor motor function or physical performance is a predictor of cognitive decline. Additionally, slow gait speed is associated with poor cognitive performance, with gait disturbances being a risk factor for dementia. Parallel declines in muscular and cognitive performance (resulting in cognitive frailty) might be driven primarily by muscle deterioration, but bidirectional pathways involving muscle–brain crosstalk through the central and peripheral nervous systems are likely to exist. Following screening, early-stage parallel declines may be manageable and modifiable through simple interventions. Gait–brain relationships in dementia and the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood; therefore, the current authors critically reviewed the literature on the gait–brain relationship and the underlying mechanisms and the feasibility/accuracy of assessment tools in order to identify research gaps. The authors suggest that dual-task gait is involved in concurrent cognitive and motor activities, reflecting how the brain allocates resources when gait is challenged by an additional task and that poor performance on dual-task gait is a predictor of dementia onset. Thus, tools or protocols that allow the identification of subtle disease- or disorder-related changes in gait are highly desirable to improve diagnosis. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a non-invasive, cost-effective, safe, simple, portable, and non-motion-sensitive neuroimaging technique, widely used in studies of clinical populations such as people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and other chronic neurological disorders. If fNIRS can help researchers to better understand gait disturbance, then fNIRS could form the basis of a cost-effective means of identifying people at risk of cognitive dysfunction and dementia. The major research gap identified in this review relates to the role of the central/peripheral nervous system when performing dual tasks.