Gait patterns in Prader-Willi and Down syndrome patients

J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2010 Jun 21;7:28. doi: 10.1186/1743-0003-7-28.


Background: Prader-Willi (PWS) and Down Syndrome (DS) are two genetic disorders characterised by some common clinical and functional features. A quantitative description and comparison of their patterns would contribute to a deeper understanding of the determinants of motor disability in these two syndromes. The aim of this study was to measure gait pattern in PWS and DS in order to provide data for developing evidence-based deficit-specific or common rehabilitation strategies.

Methods: 19 PWS patients (17.7-40 yr) and 21 DS patients (18-39 yr) were evaluated with an optoelectronic system and force platforms for measuring kinematic and kinetic parameters during walking. The results were compared with those obtained in a group of normal-weight controls (Control Group: CG; 33.4 + 9.6 yr).

Results and discussion: The results show that PWS and DS are characterised by different gait strategies. Spatio-temporal parameters indicated a cautious, abnormal gait in both groups, but DS walked with a less stable strategy than PWS. As for kinematics, DS showed a significantly reduced hip and knee flexion, especially at initial contact and ankle range of motion than PWS. DS were characterised by lower ranges of motion (p < 0.05) in all joints than CG and PWS. As for ankle kinetics, both PWS and DS showed a significantly lower push-off during terminal stance than CG, with DS yielding the lowest values. Stiffness at hip and ankle level was increased in DS. PWS showed hip stiffness values close to normal. At ankle level, stiffness was significantly decreased in both groups.

Conclusions: Our data show that DS walk with a less physiological gait pattern than PWS. Based on our results, PWS and DS patients need targeted rehabilitation and exercise prescription. Common to both groups is the aim to improve hypotonia, muscle strength and motor control during gait. In DS, improving pelvis and hip range of motion should represent a major specific goal to optimize gait pattern.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Down Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology
  • Male
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Time Factors
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Young Adult