Down syndrome: Gait pattern alterations in posture space kinematics

Matteo Zago, Peter A. Federolf, Shan R. Levy, Claudia Condoluci, Manuela Galli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gait characteristics in Down syndrome (DS) are documented in terms of discrete kinematic variables. However, such features are strictly interrelated and reflect neurological and developmental delays. A phenotypical, quantitative assessment of how multi-joint walking patterns are activated and controlled during gait would enhance the understanding of locomotor mechanisms in such patients. We adopted an analysis framework based on principal component analysis: the gait kinematics of 221 patients aged 6-45 were expressed in terms of a reduced set of one-dimensional movement components. Their time course during the gait cycle was described by score vectors, here called principal positions; its second time derivative, called principal acceleration, characterized the activity of the neuromuscular controller on each component. Outcomes were compared to an age-matched group of 49 healthy individuals. After controlling for the effect of walking speed, we observed that the main alterations in gait patterns emerged in the fourth component which is mostly devoted to stability management (group differences, p < 0.001). Rather, the main sagittal-plane locomotor patterns showed only subtle differences from the control group. Using statistical parametrical mapping, we found when (step-to-step transitions) and how (interrelated joints motion) the fourth movement deviated from normal: in particular, an excessive hip adduction and trunk inclination during the transition between single and double support phases. These findings match the neurological and sensorimotor trait of DS and suggest the promotion of targeted rehabilitative interventions. Furthermore, this paper opens to the adoption of principal positions and principal accelerations to investigate the neuromuscular control of movement patterns during locomotion.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA1001202000
Pages (from-to)1589-1596
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Gait analysis
  • Intellectual disorders
  • Principal component analysis
  • Principal movements
  • Statistical parametrical mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering


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