The Tinetti scale is a simple clinical tool designed to predict risk of falling by focusing on gait and stance impairment in elderly persons. Gait impairment is also associated with white matter (WM) abnormalities.
To test the hypothesis that elderly subjects at risk for falling, as determined by the Tinetti scale, have specific patterns of WM abnormalities on diffusion tensor imaging.
Design, Setting, and Patients
Community-based cohort of 125 homebound elderly individuals.
Main Outcome Measures
Diffusion tensor imaging scans were analyzed using tract-based spatial statistics analysis to determine the location of WM abnormalities in subjects with Tinetti scale scores of 25 or higher (without risk of falls) and lower than 25 (with risk of falls). Multivariate linear least squares correlation analysis was performed to determine the association between Tinetti scale scores and local fractional anisotropy values on each skeletal voxel controlling for possible confounders.
In subjects with risk of falls (Tinetti scale score <25), clusters of abnormal WM were seen in the medial frontal and parietal subcortical pathways, genu and splenium of corpus callosum, posterior cingulum, prefrontal and orbitofrontal pathways, and longitudinal pathways that connect frontal-parietal-temporal lobes. Among these abnormalities, those in medial frontal and parietal subcortical pathways correlated with Mini-Mental State Examination scores, while the other locations were unrelated to these scores.
Elderly individuals at risk for falls as determined by the Tinetti scale have WM abnormalities in specific locations on diffusion tensor imaging, some of which correlate with cognitive function scores.