The effect of walking speed and ankle load on joint kinematics and arm swing in children with and without Down syndrome
Kaylee Marie Larsen
Challenging children with Down Syndrome (DS) to walk faster than preferred and with an ankle load has demonstrated improvements to their gait pattern. These improvements include increasing step length, decreasing step width, decreasing cadence, and general muscle activation. However, the joint kinematic and arm swing control strategies used to make these adaptations remain unknown. The goal of this study was to evaluate the effects of walking speed and ankle load on joint kinematics and arm swing in children with and without DS. We analyzed data from 12 children with DS (10M/2F, 8.80 (1.23) years) and 12 age- and sex-matched typically developing (TD) children. Data was collected using a Vicon motion capture system as the subjects walked 10 meters at their preferred speed and a fast walking speed with either no ankle load or an ankle load of 2% of body mass. The peak flexion and extension joint angles of the ankle, knee, hip, and shoulder joints were evaluated. The anterior/posterior and mediolateral arm displacements were calculated as the differences between the wrist and shoulder markers. Children with DS had reduced peak ankle extension before toe-off. Adding ankle load reduced the peak ankle extension in both groups. When adjusting to speed, children with DS had less peak knee extension around mid-stance but greater peak knee and hip flexion during swing. Furthermore, the TD children displayed greater peak hip extension during stance at the faster speed and with ankle load. Similarities in arm swing displacements between both groups indicated a controlled upper body movement among the DS children. Overall, our results suggest that challenging children with DS to walk at a faster speed might lead to beneficial kinematic adjustments at the knee and hip joints. However, other interventions may be needed to target ankle extension before toe-off.
Matthew J. Beerse
Primary Advisor's Department
Health and Sport Science
Stander Symposium project, School of Education and Health Sciences
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Good Health and Well-Being
"The effect of walking speed and ankle load on joint kinematics and arm swing in children with and without Down syndrome" (2021). Stander Symposium Projects. 2328.