Background and Purpose: Gait is a complex process involving various cortical and subcortical brain regions. An acute stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) may disrupt white and gray matter integrity and, therefore, affect gait in patients without evident neurological signs. We determined whether patients with stroke and TIA experience subtle changes in global gait and several independent gait domains.

Methods: In the population-based Rotterdam Study, 4456 participants (median age, 65 years; 55% women) underwent detailed quantitative gait assessment (GAITRite) between 2009 and 2016. We summarized 30 gait parameters into a global gait score and 7 mutually independent gait domains. First, we assessed the association between prior stroke or TIA and global and domain-specific gait using linear regression models adjusted for age, sex, vascular risk factors, and cognition. Subsequently, we repeated the analysis stratified by the presence of different neurological symptoms in a subgroup of participants with ischemic stroke after study entry.

Results: Compared with participants without prior stroke, patients with stroke had a worse global gait (SD, −0.49 [95% CI, −0.64 to −0.34]), especially in the gait domains Pace, Phases, and Turning. The detrimental effect of stroke on gait was amplified in participants with worse cognition. No gait differences were found between participants with and without prior TIA. Ischemic stroke patients without lower limb weakness, loss of coordination, or visuospatial problems still had a worse gait compared with participants without stroke. Stratification by different stroke symptoms showed that different gait domains were affected in each group.

Conclusions: Prior stroke without neurological signs that affect gait is still associated with gait difficulties compared with individuals without stroke. Our study suggests that stroke not only has a direct impact on gait through neurological impairments but also includes an indirect effect possibly through disruption of gray and white matter integrity and accelerated neurodegeneration.,
Department of Epidemiology

Heshmatollah, A., Darweesh, S.K.L, Dommershuijsen, L.J., Koudstaal, P.J, Ikram, M.A, & Ikram, M.K. (2020). Quantitative Gait Impairments in Patients With Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack A Population-Based Approach. Stroke, 51(8), 2464–2471. doi:10.1161/strokeaha.120.029829