In this work we studied and evaluated the effects of aging in a group of individuals with Down syndrome, using gait analysis as tool of investigation. 32 individuals suffering from Down syndrome (DS) were enrolled in this study as group of pathological participants. The control group (CG) was composed by 36 healthy subjects (10 children, 15 teenagers and 16 adults) in order to evidence the differences between the normal and the pathological gait evolution in age-matched comparisons. The assessment consisted of 3D gait analysis: all pathological participants performed gait analysis in a longitudinal examination, from childhood to adulthood. Participants with DS evidenced how the delay in cognitive aspects and the typical orthopedic features of DS, as ligament laxity, led to the development of different motor strategies. During childhood, for both the considered populations, we found large variability in the gait indexes, but after this age a split in gait development was evidenced: the participants with DS developed a strategy focused on the reduction of the degrees of freedom, increasing the dispersion of generated power in the frontal plane, while in healthy participants the strategy was focused on the use of all the degrees of freedom, in order to reach the effectiveness of the gesture and finalize their movements in sagittal progression. The present study reinforces the idea that early intervention aimed to improve muscle tone, in order to supply for the excessive ligament laxity and to improve motor coordination, could represent a real goal for a more effective movement and for the prevention of compensatory strategies that increase energy cost.
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