Falls are a major concern for our society and the individual. Researchers have tried to determine why those with specific pathologies such as Alzheimer's disease have such a high incidence of falls. It has been questioned whether there is an underlying gait or balance disturbance affecting this population. This study compared gait and balance patterns of persons with Alzheimer's disease to healthy elderly controls. Footprint gait analysis and the Tinetti Balance Evaluation were used. Each subject also took the Mini-Mental State Exam. Significant differences (p< .05) between subjects with Alzheimer's disease and control subjects for velocity, relative stride length, Mini-Mental State Exam score, Tinetti Balance Evaluation score, and weight were noted. These results may be attributed to the diffuse neurological pathology present in the brains of persons with Alzheimer's disease. Since gait and balance deviations were found, fall prevention and caregiver training should be emphasized when providing physical therapy services to this population.
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