Effect of Rivastigmine on Mobility of Patients with Higher-Level Gait Disorder: A Pilot Exploratory Study

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Higher-level gait disorder (HLGD) in older adults is characterized by postural instability, stepping dysrhythmicity, recurrent falls and progressive immobility. Cognitive impairments are frequently associated with HLGD.


The aim of this study was to compare gait and cognitive performance before and after the use of rivastigmine in patients with HLGD, free from cognitive impairment or Parkinsonism.


Fifteen non-demented patients with HLGD (age 79.2 ± 5.9 years; 11 women; Mini-Mental State Examination [MMSE] 28.3 ± 1.4) received escalating doses of rivastigmine for 12 weeks in an open-label, pilot study. They were assessed before and after treatment (week 0 and week 12), and after a 4-week washout period (week 16). Assessments included the Mindstreams computerized neuropsychological battery, Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Geriatric Depression Scale, Timed Up and Go (TUG) test, gait speed and stride time variability. One-way multiple analysis of variance tests for repeated measures were used, and Pillai's trace test was considered as robust to investigate significant differences.


The mean dose of rivastigmine during the 8–12 week period was 5.1 ± 2.3 mg/day. A positive effect was observed on the Mindstreams memory subscale and anxiety scores [Pillai's trace: F(6,724) = 0.508, p = 0.010; and F(7,792) = 0.545, p = 0.006, respectively, over the course of the study] as well as on mobility (TUG test) [Pillai's trace: F(4,863) = 0.448; p = 0.028], whereas gait speed and stride time variability did not change.


The use of relatively low-dose rivastigmine did not affect gait speed and stride time variability; however, the general mobility and anxiety were improved. These preliminary results warrant a larger, randomized, placebo-controlled study.

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