Brain Volume Linked to Walking Outcomes in Diabetes

Findings stronger in those with peripheral neuropathy versus those with foot-sole sensation

THURSDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Gray matter volume is associated with walking outcomes, including speed, stride duration variability, and double support time, in individuals with diabetes, with a stronger correlation seen for those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), according to a study published online June 4 in Diabetes Care.

Brad Manor, Ph.D., from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues evaluated clinically important walking outcomes, including speed, stride duration variability, and double support time, in 29 patients with DPN with foot-sole somatosensory impairment, 68 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) with intact foot-sole sensation, and 89 control subjects. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure global and regional gray matter volumes, and their correlation with walking outcomes was assessed.

The researchers found that, compared with those with DM and control participants, individuals with DPN walked significantly more slowly, with significantly greater stride duration variability and longer double support. Global gray matter volume was similar between the groups, but diabetes was associated with significantly less cerebellar gray matter volume. Participants with DPN who had lower global and regional (cerebellum, right-hemisphere dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and basal ganglia) gray matter volume walked more slowly, with greater stride duration variability and/or longer double support. Each of these associations was more robust in individuals with DPN than those with DM. Brain volumes did not relate to walking patterns in the control participants.

"Strong relationships between brain volumes and walking outcomes were observed in the DPN group and to a lesser extent the DM group, but not in control subjects," the authors write.

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