The present study investigated the visuomotor and balance limitations during obstacle crossing in typically developing (TD) children and those with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) (7-9 years old; N=12 per group). Spatiotemporal gait parameters as well as range and velocity of the centre of mass (COM) were determined in three conditions: overground walking at a self-selected speed, crossing a low obstacle and crossing a high obstacle (5% or 30% of the leg length, respectively). Both groups walked more slowly during obstacle crossing than walking over level ground. In addition, both groups exhibited a significant decrease in the spatial variability of their foot placements as they approached the obstacle, which was then negotiated with a similar strategy. There were no differences in approach distance, length of lead and trail step, or lead and trail foot elevation. Compared to walking over level ground, obstacle crossing led to a longer swing phase of the lead and trail foot and increased maximal medio-lateral COM velocity. In children with DCD, however, medio-lateral COM velocity was higher and accompanied by significantly greater medio-lateral COM amplitude. In conclusion, the results indicate that while TD-children and those with DCD exhibit satisfactory anticipatory control and adequate visual guidance, the latter group have a reduced ability to control the momentum of the COM when crossing obstacles that impose increased balance demands.
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