Background: Recent research suggests using an imaginary version of the Timed Up and Go test (TUG) for a first assessment of cognitive impairment. By using the time difference between a real (TUGr) and an imagined (TUGi) TUG task, the objective of this study was to examine the effect of cognitive impairment on motor imagery ability. Methods: Fifty-two participants (mean age 69.3 ± 4.0 years) with mild cognitive impairment or subjective cognitive impairment were included in this study. The time difference between the TUGr and the TUGi was used as the main outcome. The Trail Making Test part B (TMT B), the ratio between TMT A and TMT B, and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) battery were the main independent variables. Results: The difference between TUGr and TUGi performance time and the TMT B performance time increased with decreasing cognitive function (p < 0.01). There was no relationship between TUGr and TUGi performance time and TMT B/A ratio. There were significant correlations between TUG time differences and the MoCA score (r = -0.489, p < 0.01), the TMT B (r = 0.364, p < 0.01), and the TMT B/A ratio (r = 0.377, p < 0.01). Conclusion: The combination of TUGr and TUGi may have added value in assessing cognitive impairment, which is a possible pre-stage of dementia.
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