The current profile of gait control in children with ADHD is incomplete and predominately based on children walking forward at a self-selected pace. There are no studies of potential gait deficits in this clinical population when walking in different directions in combination with varying rates of stepping that are freely selected and entrained to an external stimulus. The purpose of the current study was to address this lack of information by assessing gait of children aged 7-17 years with (n = 17) and without (n = 26) ADHD. Participants walked forward and backward along an electronically instrumented carpet at a self-selected stepping rate and in synchrony to a metronome that dictated an increased and decreased stepping rate. Using repeated measures analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) to assess spatiotemporal gait parameters, results showed that children with ADHD exhibited a significantly exaggerated, toes 'turned out,' foot position for all walking conditions compared to typically developing children. When walking backward, children with ADHD produced an increased step width, higher stepping cadence, and increased velocity. Additionally, coefficient of variation ratios indicated that children with ADHD produced greater variability of velocity, cadence, and step time for all walking conditions, and greater variability for stride length when walking at an increased stepping rate. Results were interpreted in terms of clinical significance and practical ramifications that inform rehabilitation specialists in designing therapies that ameliorate the reported gait deficits.
Keywords: ADHD; GAITrite®; Gait; Motor skills; Rehabilitation.
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