Physical fitness in children with developmental coordination disorder: measurement matters

Res Dev Disabil. 2014 May;35(5):1087-97. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2014.01.031. Epub 2014 Feb 26.


Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) experience considerable difficulties coordinating and controlling their body movements during functional motor tasks. Thus, it is not surprising that children with DCD do not perform well on tests of physical fitness. The aim of this study was to determine whether deficits in motor coordination influence the ability of children with DCD to perform adequately on physical fitness tests. A case-control study design was used to compare the performance of children with DCD (n=70, 36 boys, mean age=8 y 1 mo) and Typically Developing (TD) children (n=70, 35 boys, mean age=7 y 9 mo) on measures of isometric strength (hand-held dynamometry), functional strength, i.e. explosive power and muscular endurance (Functional Strength Measurement), aerobic capacity (20 m Shuttle Run Test) and anaerobic muscle capacity, i.e. muscle power (Muscle Power Sprint Test). Results show that children with DCD were able to generate similar isometric forces compared to TD children in isometric break tests, but were significantly weaker in three-point grip strength. Performance on functional strength items requiring more isolated explosive movement of the upper extremities, showed no significant difference between groups while items requiring muscle endurance (repetitions in 30s) and items requiring whole body explosive movement were all significantly different. Aerobic capacity was lower for children with DCD whereas anaerobic performance during the sprint test was not. Our findings suggest that poor physical fitness performance in children with DCD may be partly due to poor timing and coordination of repetitive movements.

Keywords: Aerobic capacity; Anaerobic muscle capacity; Developmental Coordination Disorder; Muscle power; Physical fitness; South Africa; Strength.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Exercise Test / methods*
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Running / physiology*