Reliability and minimum detectable change of measures of gait in children during walking and running on an instrumented treadmill

Simon C McSweeney, Lloyd F Reed, Scott C Wearing
Gait & Posture 2019 October 7, 75: 105-108

BACKGROUND: Instrumented treadmills that incorporate pressure platforms are increasingly used to characterize gait in children. Although footprint size is known to influence the measurement performance of pressure platforms, published evidence on the reliability of such systems for children's gait is lacking.

RESEARCH QUESTION: This study evaluated the test-retest reliability of temporospatial gait parameters and vertical ground reaction forces measured in healthy children during barefoot walking and running on a capacitance-based treadmill system.

METHODS: Temporospatial gait parameters, including cadence, stride length, stride duration, stance and swing phase durations and the magnitude and timing of conventional vertical ground reaction force peaks were determined on two occasions in 17 healthy children (mean age, 11 ± 2 years; height, 148.4 ± 9.3 cm; and mass, 43.3 ± 10 kg) during walking and running at preferred speed on an instrumented treadmill. Reliability was assessed using Intra Class Correlation Coefficients (ICC) and the standard error of measurement (SEM). The minimum detectable change (MDC95%) was also calculated.

RESULTS: ICC values ranged from 0.91-0.99 for all variables. When expressed as a percentage of the mean, the SEM was <5% for all gait parameters assessed during walking and running. The MDC95% values for gait parameters were typically higher during running than walking, and were ±4% of the gait cycle for temporal parameters, ±55 cm for stride length and ±0.1 bodyweights for peak vertical ground reaction force.

SIGNIFICANCE: Children's gait parameters varied by <5% between test occasions and were more consistent during walking than running. These findings provide clinicians and researchers with an index of the reliability and sensitivity of the treadmill to detect changes in common spatiotemporal gait parameters and vertical ground reaction forces in children.

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