White matter signal abnormality (WMSA) is often present in the MRIs of older persons with mobility impairment. We examined the relationship between impaired mobility and the progressive accrual of WMSA. Mobility was assessed with the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) and quantitative measures of gait and balance. Fourteen subjects had baseline and follow-up MRI scans performed 20 months apart. WMSA was detected and quantified using automated computer algorithms. In the control subjects, WMSA volume increased by 0.02±0.05% ICCV (percent intracranial cavity volume)/year while the WMSA of mobility impaired subjects increased five-times faster (0.10±0.10 ICCV/year, p=0.03). WMSA volume was related to some of the mobility measures and was sensitive to change which was not true of the other MRI variables. The study demonstrates the sensitivity of longitudinal automated volumetric analysis of WMSA to differentiate differences in the accrual rate of WMSA in groups selected on the basis of mobility. Based on these results, we propose that a subset of subjects with mobility impairment have accelerated, disease related WMSA accrual, thus explaining the rapid progression of mobility impairment in some older persons without apparent cause. This study demonstrates that quantitative MRI and performance measures can provide valuable insight into the rate of progression and pathophysiologic abnormalities underlying mobility impairment.
- Normal and impaired-mobility
- White matter signal abnormality
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology