Three-dimensional path of the body centre of mass during walking in children: an index of neural maturation

Chiara Malloggi, Viviana Rota, Luigi Catino, Calogero Malfitano, Stefano Scarano, Davide Soranna, Antonella Zambon, Luigi Tesio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Few studies have investigated the kinematic aspects of the body centre of mass motion, that is, its three-dimensional path during strides and their changes with child development. This study aimed to describe the three-dimensional path of the centre of mass in children while walking in order to disentangle the effect of age from that of absolute forward speed and body size and to define preliminary pediatric normative values. The three-dimensional path of the centre of mass during walking was compared across healthy children 5-6- years (n = 6), 7-8 years (n = 6), 9-10 years (n = 5), and 11-13 years of age (n = 5) and healthy adults (23-48 years, n = 6). Participants walked on a force-sensing treadmill at various speeds, and height normalization of speed was conducted with the dimensionless Froude number. The total length and maximal lateral, vertical, and forward displacements of the centre of mass path were calculated from the ground reaction forces during complete strides and were scaled to the participant's height. The centre of mass path showed a curved figure-of-eight shape. Once adjusted for speed and participants' height, as age increased, there was a decrease in the three-dimensional parameters and in the lateral displacement, with values approaching those of adults. At each step, lateral redirection of the centre of mass requires brisk transient muscle power output. The base of support becomes relatively narrower with increasing age. Skilled shortening of the lateral displacement of the centre of mass may therefore decrease the risk of falling sideways. The three-dimensional path of the centre of mass may represent maturation of neural control of gait during growth.

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aging/physiology
  • Child
  • Child Development/physiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gait/physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Walking/physiology
  • Young Adult

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