UF Health Researchers Identify Gray Matter Differences Among Gait Subgroups In Chronic Pain Patients
UF Health researchers Ania Lipat, M.S., David Clark, Sc.D., Chris Hass, Ph.D., and Yenisel Cruz-Almeida, Ph.D., published research in the Experimental Gerontology June 2022 issue focused on the older adult chronic pain population.
Current literature regarding morphological gray matter atrophy in chronic pain is mixed, inhibiting our ability to understand neurological mechanisms of chronic pain. The inconsistent findings may be due to the presence of subgroups within the older adult chronic pain population that differ in gait performance, as gait and gray matter have been previously associated. These gait subgroups, however, have been inadequately characterized in prior work and have not been compared across gray matter measures. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to identify and characterize gait subgroups within the older adult chronic pain population, and to evaluate differences in gray matter measures between subgroups.
The present study was a secondary analysis of the Neuromodulatory Examination of Pain and Mobility Across the Lifespan, or NEPAL, study. A subset of older participants (n = 40) completed assessments to evaluate psychological status, cognitive abilities, pain characteristics and spatiotemporal gait performance using an instrumented gait mat. Gray matter measures were obtained from a T1-weighted anatomical scan using Freesurfer’s recon-all function.
The results confirm the existence of gait subgroups among the older adult chronic pain population and gray matter differences observed between groups support the need for the consideration of subgroups within this population for future pain, mobility and aging studies.