This study investigated the effect of both walking speed and external ankle load on the kinetic patterns of treadmill walking in preadolescents with and without Down syndrome (DS). Ten preadolescents with DS and ten age- and gender-matched children with typical development (TD) participated in this study. We manipulated two treadmill speeds and two external ankle loads. Treadmill speeds were equal to 75% and 100% of the preferred overground walking speed. Two load conditions were with and without external ankle load which was equal to 2% of body weight on each side. We used an instrumented treadmill to collect vertical ground reaction force (GRF). Both timing and magnitude of peak GRFs, the loading and unloading rates, and various impulses were calculated from the GRF data. The results show that the DS group produced a shorter duration of propulsion, a lower FZ2 (second peak GRF) and vertical propulsive impulse, a higher loading rate and a lower unloading rate than the TD group. At a faster treadmill speed the DS group increased the duration of propulsion, the unloading rate and the vertical propulsive impulse, but reduced the magnitude of FZ2. External ankle load helped the DS group increase FZ2 and vertical propulsive impulse and might facilitate the push off and the initiation of leg swing during treadmill walking. External ankle load may therefore be included in the future physical intervention and exercise programs for the DS group to strengthen leg muscles and develop more efficient push off during locomotion.
Keywords: Down syndrome; Ground reaction force; Impulse; Kinetic; Preadolescents.
Published by Elsevier B.V.