Findings of the University of Melbourne gait study
Walking patterns of children with HSP described.
The aim of this study was to describe how children with hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) walk. In particular, the study aimed to investigate whether children with HSP showed particular patterns of movement in their legs and trunk when they were walking.
Walking patterns were assessed from three different views, including the sagittal plane (the movements seen with a side-on view), the coronal plane (the movements seen when watching a person walking towards and away from you) and the transverse plane (the movements seen if you were to look directly down upon a person from above). All of the movements were compared to those seen in a group of typically developing children who did not have HSP.
Eleven children participated in the study, with ages ranging from 7-18 years. As expected, the walking patterns of children with HSP varied from the group of children without HSP.
In the sagittal (side-on) plane, each joint or body segment moved more than in the group of children without HSP. For example, children with HSP leaned forward and backwards more at their trunk and also tended to twist their pelvis backwards and forwards.
In the coronal (front and back) plane, the movements of the trunk, pelvis and hips were also quite different. In particular, children with HSP tended to lean more side-to-side than children without HSP. Increased amounts of movement were also noted at the pelvis and hips, indicating that the pelvis and hips tended to drop to one side when the children with HSP were stepping.
Some of these results about the movements of the hips, knees and ankles agree with the results published from other studies. The information about the movements of the trunk and pelvis in the coronal and transverse planes is new and has not yet been investigated by other researchers.
The results from this study are important as they confirm that some children with HSP exhibit more movement at the trunk and legs when walking when compared to children without HSP. These movements may occur as a result of muscle weakness or to compensate for other difficulties while walking, such as catching their toes when stepping. Now that the walking patterns have been confirmed, further research is needed to investigate why these movements occur.