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Keywords:

  • frontotemporal dementia;
  • gait disorders;
  • Alzheimer's disease;
  • executive function;
  • motor control

Abstract

The main diagnostic criteria of the behavioural variant of frontotemporal degeneration (bvFTD) include neurobehavioral and dysexecutive syndromes, but not specific gait characteristics although strong relationship between gait and prefrontal functions are increasingly recognized. Accordingly, we tested the hypothesis that patients with bvFTD would have more gait changes than older healthy controls and demented patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Sixty subjects were included in the study: 19 with bvFTD, 19 with AD and 22 healthy controls. Mean values and coefficients of variation (CV) of stride time while just walking (i.e., single tasking) and while walking with backward counting (i.e., dual tasking) were measured using the SMTEC®-footswitch system. Stride time, mean value, and CV were significantly increased in both patient groups compared with healthy controls during single task or walking alone (P < 0.001) and during dual tasking (P < 0.001). After adjusting for age, Mini-mental examination, psychoactive drugs, gender, and history of previous fall, only the patients with bvFTD group was associated with an increase of CV of stride time during single walking (P < 0.001) and dual tasking (P < 0.001). These data suggest that gait instability during single and dual tasking could represent a supportive argument for bvFTD. In clinical practice, such a diagnosis should be at least considered in any demented patient with gait instability. © 2010 Movement Disorder Society