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Research paper
Impaired imitation of gestures in mild dementia: comparison of dementia with Lewy bodies, Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia


Introduction To examine whether imitation of gestures provided useful information to diagnose early dementia in elderly patients.

Methods Imitation of finger and hand gestures was evaluated in patients with mild dementia; 74 patients had dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), 100 with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and 52 with subcortical vascular dementia (SVaD).

Results Significantly, more patients with DLB (32.4%) compared with patients with AD (5%) or SVaD (11.5%) had an impaired ability to imitate finger gestures bilaterally. Also, significantly, more patients with DLB (36.5%) compared with patients with AD (5%) or SVaD (15.4%) had lower mean scores of both hands. In contrast, impairment of the imitation of bimanual gestures was comparable among the three patient groups (DLB 50%, AD 42%, SVaD 42.3%).

Discussion Our study revealed that imitation of bimanual gestures was impaired non-specifically in about half of the patients with mild dementia, whereas imitation of finger gestures was significantly more impaired in patients with early DLB than in those with AD or SVaD. Although the sensitivity was not high, the imitation tasks may provide additional information for diagnosis of mild dementia, especially for DLB.


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