Walking Dynamics in Preadolescents With and Without Down Syndrome

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Background. A force-driven harmonic oscillator (FDHO) model reveals the elastic property of general muscular activity during walking. Objective. This study aimed to investigate whether children with Down syndrome (DS) have a lower K/G ratio, a primary variable derived from the FDHO model, compared with children with typical development during overground and treadmill walking and whether children with DS can adapt the K/G ratio to walking speeds, external ankle load, and a treadmill setting. Design. A cross-sectional study design was used that included 26 children with and without DS, aged 7 to 10 years, for overground walking and 20 of them for treadmill walking in a laboratory setting. Methods. During overground walking, participants walked at 2 speeds: normal and fastest speed. During treadmill walking, participants walked at 75% and 100% of their preferred overground speed. Two load conditions were manipulated for both overground and treadmill walking: no load and an ankle load that was equal to 2% of body mass on each side. Results. Children with DS showed a K/G ratio similar to that of their healthy peers and increased this ratio with walking speed regardless of ankle load during overground walking. Children with DS produced a lower K/G ratio at the fast speed of treadmill walking without ankle load, but ankle load helped them produce a K/G ratio similar to that of their healthy peers. Limitations. The FDHO model cannot specify what muscles are used or how muscles are coordinated for a given motor task. Conclusions. Children with DS show elastic property of general muscular activity similar to their healthy peers during overground walking. External ankle load helps children with DS increase general muscular activity and match their healthy peers while walking fast on a treadmill.


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