The scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center, who put 27,000 older adults on five continents to a simple test measuring walking speed and cognitive problems, found that nearly 1 in 10 met criteria for pre-dementia.
The new test diagnoses motoric cognitive risk syndrome (MCR). Testing for the newly described syndrome relies on measuring gait speed (our manner of walking) and asking a few simple questions about a patient's cognitive abilities, both of which take just seconds. The test is not reliant on the latest medical technology and can be done in a clinical setting, diagnosing people in the early stages of the dementia process.
According to the researchers, early diagnosis is critical because it allows time to identify and possibly treat the underlying causes of the disease, which may delay or even prevent the onset of dementia in some cases.
Joe Verghese said that in many clinical and community settings, people don't have access to the sophisticated tests-biomarker assays, cognitive tests or neuroimaging studies-used to diagnose people at risk for developing dementia and their assessment method could enable many more people to learn if they're at risk for dementia, since it avoids the need for complex testing and doesn't require that the test be administered by a neurologist.
The study was published online in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.