Gait is an important health indicator and poor gait is strongly associated with disability and risk of falls. Thyroid dysfunction is suggested as a potential determinant of gait deterioration, but this has not been explored in a population-based study. We therefore investigated the association of thyroid function with gait patterns in 2645 participants from the Rotterdam Study with data available on TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), FT4 (free thyroxine) and gait, without known thyroid disease or dementia. The primary outcome was Global gait (standardized Z-score), while secondary outcomes included gait domains (Rhythm, Variability, Phases, Pace, Base of support, Tandem, Turning) and velocity. Gait was assessed by electronic walkway. Multivariable regression models revealed an inverted U-shaped association of TSH (p < 0.001), but no association of FT4 concentrations with Global gait (p = 0.2). TSH levels were positively associated with Base of support (p = 0.01) and followed an inverted U-shaped curve with Tandem (p = 0.002) and velocity (p = 0.02). Clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism were associated with worse Global gait than euthyroidism (β =-0.61; CI =-1.03,-0.18; p = 0.004 and β =-0.13; CI =-0.26,-0.00; p = 0.04, respectively). In euthyroid participants, higher thyroid function was associated with worse gait patterns. In conclusion, both low and high thyroid function are associated with alterations in Global gait, Tandem, Base of support and velocity.

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Journal Scientific Reports
Bano, A, Chaker, L, Darweesh, S.K.L, Korevaar, T.I.M, Mattace Raso, F.U.S, Dehghan, A, … Peeters, R.P. (2016). Gait patterns associated with thyroid function: The Rotterdam Study. Scientific Reports, 6. doi:10.1038/srep38912