Gait initiation in children with rett syndrome

Ioannis Ugo Isaias, Mariangela Dipaola, Marlies Michi, Alberto Marzegan, Jens Volkmann, Marina L Rodocanachi Roidi, Carlo Albino Frigo, Paolo Cavallari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rett syndrome is an X-linked neurodevelopmental condition mainly characterized by loss of spoken language and a regression of purposeful hand use, with the development of distinctive hand stereotypies, and gait abnormalities. Gait initiation is the transition from quiet stance to steady-state condition of walking. The associated motor program seems to be centrally mediated and includes preparatory adjustments prior to any apparent voluntary movement of the lower limbs. Anticipatory postural adjustments contribute to postural stability and to create the propulsive forces necessary to reach steady-state gait at a predefined velocity and may be indicative of the effectiveness of the feedforward control of gait. In this study, we examined anticipatory postural adjustments associated with gait initiation in eleven girls with Rett syndrome and ten healthy subjects. Muscle activity (tibialis anterior and soleus muscles), ground reaction forces and body kinematic were recorded. Children with Rett syndrome showed a distinctive impairment in temporal organization of all phases of the anticipatory postural adjustments. The lack of appropriate temporal scaling resulted in a diminished impulse to move forward, documented by an impairment in several parameters describing the efficiency of gait start: length and velocity of the first step, magnitude and orientation of centre of pressure-centre of mass vector at the instant of (swing-)toe off. These findings were related to an abnormal muscular activation pattern mainly characterized by a disruption of the synergistic activity of antagonistic pairs of postural muscles. This study showed that girls with Rett syndrome lack accurate tuning of feedforward control of gait.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere92736
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 17 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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