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Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) in midlife is associated with a greater risk of dementia in later life. Both gait speed and spatiotemporal gait characteristics have been associated with later cognitive decline in community-dwelling older adults. Thus, the assessment of gait characteristics in uncomplicated midlife T2DM may be important in selecting-out those with T2DM at greatest risk of later cognitive decline. We assessed the relationship between Inertial Motion Unit (IMUs)- derived gait characteristics and cognitive function assessed via Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA)/detailed neuropsychological assessment battery (CANTAB) in middle-aged adults with and without uncomplicated T2DM using both multivariate linear regression and a neural network approach. Gait was assessed under (i) normal walking, (ii) fast (maximal) walking and (iii) cognitive dual-task walking (reciting alternate letters of the alphabet) conditions. Overall, 138 individuals were recruited (n = 94 with T2DM; 53% female, 52.8 8.3 years; n = 44 healthy controls, 43% female, 51.9 8.1 years). Midlife T2DM was associated with significantly slower gait velocity on both slow and fast walks (both p < 0.01) in addition to a longer stride time and greater gait complexity during normal walk (both p < 0.05). Findings persisted following covariate adjustment. In analyzing cognitive performance, the strongest association was observed between gait velocity and global cognitive function (MOCA). Significant associations were also observed between immediate/delayed memory performance and gait velocity. Analysis using a neural network approach did not outperform multivariate linear regression in predicting cognitive function (MOCA) from gait velocity. Our study demonstrates the impact of uncomplicated T2DM on gait speed and gait characteristics in midlife, in addition to the striking relationship between gait characteristics and global cognitive function/memory performance in midlife. Further studies are needed to evaluate the longitudinal relationship between midlife gait characteristics and later cognitive decline, which may aid in selecting-out those with T2DM at greatest-risk for preventative interventions.

DOI 10.3390/s22155710


Meath Foundation,Tallaght University Hospital.