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Frail elderly patients with dementia go too fast
  1. M B van Iersel1,
  2. A L M Verbeek2,
  3. B R Bloem3,
  4. M Munneke4,
  5. R A J Esselink3,
  6. M G M Olde Rikkert1
  1. 1Department of Geriatric Medicine, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre
  3. 3Department of Neurology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre
  4. 4Department of Physiotherapy, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Marianne van Iersel
 Department of Geriatrics, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Internal Code 931, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands; m.vaniersel{at}


The reason why patients with dementia fall more often and sustain more fractures than patients without dementia remains unclear. Therefore, the relationship between dementia and gait velocity as a marker for mobility and falls in a cohort of frail elderly (mean age of 77.3 years) inpatients was assessed. Patients with dementia were expected to walk slower than patients without dementia. A trend was indeed observed: absolute gait velocity of 0.59 m/s in patients with dementia (n = 63) versus 0.65 m/s in patients without dementia (n = 62; p = 0.19). After adjustment for parkinsonism and walking aids, however, patients with dementia walked 0.44 m/s faster than patients without dementia (p = 0.02). Probable explanations are frontal lobe disinhibition and lack of insight, causing patients with dementia to walk relatively too fast in the context of their frailty. Therefore, the high risk of falls in dementia may be partially explained by the loss of control of gait velocity.

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  • Competing interests: None.