Assessing Locomotor Coordination during Walking and Running in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review

Research Article

Phys Med Rehabil Int. 2021; 8(2): 1177.

Assessing Locomotor Coordination during Walking and Running in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review

Goetschalckx M1*, Moumdjian L1,2, Klingels K1, Feys P1 and Rameckers E1,3

1REVAL Rehabilitation Research Center, Faculty of Rehabilitation Sciences, Hasselt University, Hasselt, Belgium

2IPEM, Institute of Psychoacoustic and Electronic Music, Faculty of Art and Philosophy, Gent University, Gent, Belgium

3CAPHRI, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands; Center of Expertise, Adelante Rehabilitation Center, Valkenburg, the Netherlands

*Corresponding author: Goetschalckx M, Department Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, Hasselt University, Agoralaan, Gebouw A, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium

Received: February 08, 2021; Accepted: March 22, 2021; Published: March 29, 2021


We aimed to systematically summarize assessment methods of locomotion coordination of the lower limbs in children, and to discuss the influence of person and task on locomotor coordination. Two databases (PubMed, Web of Science) were screened, up to April 1th 2020. Five articles were included. Locomotor coordination was assessed in Typically Developing Children (TD) and children with autism in different domains of coordination, using angle-angle plots, planar covariance, continuous relative phase and point-phasing. In TD children: age influenced intersegmental covariance when walking, and stability of temporal and amplitude phasing when running. Intersegmental covariance was influenced by vision and walking speed. Phase relationship was not influenced by weighted walking in autistic children, nor in TD children when walking backwards.

Keywords: Locomotion coordination; Child; Neurodevelopmental disorder; Walking; Running


TD: Typically Developing Children; DCD: Developmental Coordination Disorder; ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder; AXIS: Critical Appraisal Tool for Observational Cross-Sectional Studies; CCF: Cross-Correlation Function Analysis; CRP: Continuous Relative Phase; MARP: Mean Absolute Relative Phase; SDRP: Standard Deviation of the Relative Phase; DRP: Discrete Relative Phase


Gait is a rhythmic cyclical movement that requires coordination between different body segments or joints to create an efficient and smooth movement pattern [1]. Coordination involves kinematic coupling, or synergy formation, in order to organize a movement pattern, to ensure stability under environmental demands [2,3]. Throughout literature, the term coordination is broadly used for closely linked constructs, e.g. movement control and skill. Movement control reflects the change in the scalar values of the function, for example the slow/faster scaling characteristics. Modifying coordination and control in order to adapt to environmental or task constraints, is rather an expression of skill. These constructs are however not independent from each other, and are therefore difficult to distinguish [4]. Krasovsky T et al. (2010) [1] suggested a specific definition for locomotor coordination: “An ability to maintain a context-dependent and phase-dependent cyclical relationship between different body segments or joints in both spatial and temporal domains.” Within this definition of coordination, outcome measures can be divided into different subcategories [1]. Spatial and temporal domains can be distinguished, reflecting respectively the spatial relationship and temporal phasing relationship between different body segments or joints. Both spatial and temporal coordination can be measured according to an intrinsic reference frame, reflecting the coordination within the body (e.g. inter-joint coordination), or to an extrinsic reference frame, reflecting the coordination of body segments relative to the environment, describing positions of segments in external space (e.g. inter-limb coordination). We summarized the above definitions, based on [1], in a schematic overview which can be seen in Figure 1.