Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

Advisor 1

Merrill Landers

First Committee Member

Merrill Landers

Second Committee Member

Daniel Young

Number of Pages



Background: Cognitive impairment (CI) is a prevalent condition characterized by loss of brain volume and changes in cognition, motor function, and dual-tasking ability. Objective: To examine associations between brain volumes, dual task performance, and gait and balance in those with CI to elucidate the mechanisms underlying loss of function. Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of medical records of patients with CI and compared brain volumes, dual task performance, and measures of gait and balance. Results: Greater cognitive function and combined dual task effect (DTE) is associated with smaller brain volumes. In contrast, greater motor DTE is associated with larger motor relevant brain volumes. As brain volumes decrease, dual task performance becomes more motor prioritized. Cognitive DTE is more strongly associated with decreased performance on measures of gait and balance than motor DTE. Decreased gait and balance performance are also associated with increased motor task prioritization. Conclusions: Cognitive DTE appears to be more strongly associated with decreased automaticity and gait and balance ability than motor DTE and should be utilized as a clinical and research outcome measure in this population. The increased motor task prioritization associated with decreased brain volume and function indicates a potential for accommodative strategies to maximize function in those with CI. Counterintuitive correlations between motor brain volumes and motor DTE in our study suggest a complicated interaction between brain pathology and function.


Dual Task Interference; Dementia; Alzheimer’s Disease; Vascular Dementia; Mild Cognitive Impairment; Cognitive Impairment; Brain Volume; Cognitive-Motor Interference; Physical Therapy


Medicine and Health Sciences | Physical Therapy | Rehabilitation and Therapy

File Format


File Size

660 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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