Gait is a functionally highly relevant aspect of motor performance. In the general population poorer gait increases the risk of falls and is a predictor for future disability, cognitive impairment, institutionalization and/or mortality. People with intellectual disabilities (ID) show a delayed motor development, which brings to attention the abnormalities that might accompany gait in this population throughout childhood and adulthood. Therefore, this paper aims (a) to provide a focused review of the available literature on gait characteristics in individuals with ID and (b) to gain insight into available instrumentations measuring gait in this population. We searched the database of PubMed for relevant articles and the reference lists of included articles, resulting in 44 included articles. Forty one studies reported gait characteristics during over-ground walking and six studies during perturbed walking conditions. Most studies investigated syndrome-specific ID populations, only five studies investigated the general ID population. The studies show that gait abnormalities are evident during over-ground walking in the ID population, both in people with genetic syndromes and with ID without genetic syndromes. During perturbed conditions people with ID altered their gait with stability-enhancing adaptations. Abnormalities in gait may be partly explained by physical features, but the interrelatedness between gait and cognition may also be an explanation for the gait abnormalities seen in the ID population. Further research regarding gait characteristics of the ID population, and its relation to cognitive functioning, and adverse health outcomes is needed.
Keywords: Gait; Instruments; Intellectual disabilities; Walking.
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