In this study, 97 patients with senile dementia of the Alzheimer type (SDAT) in a nursing home were followed over a period of 2 years, and the relationship between falls and gait function was examined. The findings indicated that the number of fallers was significantly higher in moderate-stage SDAT patients than in the mild-stage patients. In the moderate-stage SDAT patients, walking speed and stride length, measured as indices to evaluate gait function, were significantly lower, and the stride length variability was significantly higher than in mild-stage patients. When comparing the gait indices of fallers and non-fallers by the severity of dementia, a significant difference was observed only in stride length variability. The gait abnormality associated with advanced severity in dementia is believed to be a factor affecting falling. In particular, stride length variability appeared to be an effective predictor of falling.
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