Current dynamic walking tests, used in studies with older adults with dementia, are heavily dependent on healthy cognitive and physical function. For this reason, the Groningen Meander Walking Test (GMWT) was developed specifically for people with dementia. The aim of the GMWT is to measure dynamic walking ability by walking over a meandering curved line, with an emphasis on walking speed and stepping accuracy, while changing direction. The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility, test-retest reliability, and minimal detectable change (MDC) of the GMWT. A repeated-measures design was used. Forty-two individuals with dementia participated in the study. Adherence rate, adverse events, repetition of instructions during test performance, test duration, and number of oversteps were assessed. The adherence rate was excellent, with no adverse events. No repetitive instructions were given during test performance, and test duration was short (mean=17.16 seconds) with few oversteps (mean=1.94 oversteps). Test-retest reliability for participants without a walking device was excellent for the GMWT time score (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC]=.942), with an MDC of 2.96 seconds. Test-retest reliability for participants with a 4-wheeled walker (4WW) was moderate (ICC=.837), with an MDC of 10.35 seconds. For the overstep score, a marginal ICC of .630 was found, with an MDC of 4.38 oversteps. The authors note that the study was limited by the absence of fall data, and there was a volunteer bias.
The study concluded that the GMWT is a feasible test for people with dementia. With the GMWT time score, a reliable and sensitive field test to measure walking abilities in older adults with dementia is available. The GMWT overstep score can be used to give information about the execution according to protocol and should be emphasized during the instructions. Additional studies need to investigate the validity of the GMWT.