Gait initiation in children with cerebral palsy

Carrie Stackhouse, Patricia A. Shewokis, Samuel R. Pierce, Brian Smith, James McCarthy, Carole Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The task of gait initiation (GI), or taking a first step from a static standing position requires the development of forward momentum while maintaining dynamic balance as the body's center of mass (COM) moves forward and outside the base of support. The dynamics of GI in children (aged 7-12 years) with hemiplegic cerebral palsy (CP), diplegic CP and children with typical development (TD) were compared to characterize the mechanics and control of this task. Ground reaction forces (GRFs) and muscle activity were collected during GI at three different self-selected speeds (slow, moderate and fast). Movement of a sacral marker was also tracked to estimate downward shifting of the body during the GI task. Results demonstrate the presence of a motor sequence characterized by increased forward momentum development with increased GI speed for all groups of children. Anticipatory movements of children with CP were different when compared to children with TD. Children with hemiplegic CP demonstrated decreased lateral shifting while children with diplegic CP demonstrated a trend of decreased downward shifting of the body compared to children of TD. Analysis of the GI motor sequence in children provides a means to characterize coordination and motor control of a functional ambulatory task in children with CP compared to children with TD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-308
Number of pages8
JournalGait and Posture
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral palsy
  • Children
  • Gait initiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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