Walking Speed of Children and Adolescents With Cerebral Palsy: Laboratory Versus Daily Life
Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
The purpose of this pilot study was to compare walking speed, an important component of gait, in the laboratory and daily life, in young individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) and with typical development (TD), and to quantify to what extent gait observed in clinical settings compares to gait in real life. Fifteen children, adolescents and young adults with CP (6 GMFCS I, 2 GMFCS II, and 7 GMFCS III) and 14 with TD were included. They wore 4 synchronized inertial sensors on their shanks and
... while walking at their spontaneous self-selected speed in the laboratory, and then during 2 week-days and 1 weekend day in their daily environment. Walking speed was computed from shank angular velocity signals using a validated algorithm. The median of the speed distributions in the laboratory and daily life were compared at the group and individual levels using Wilcoxon tests and Spearman's correlation coefficients. The corresponding percentile of daily life speed equivalent to the speed in the laboratory was computed and observed at the group level. Daily-life walking speed was significantly lower compared to the laboratory for the CP group (0.91 [0.58-1.23] m/s vs 1.07 [0.73-1.28] m/s, p = 0.015), but not for TD (1.29 [1.24-1.40] m/s vs 1.29 [1.20-1.40] m/s, p = 0.715). Median speeds correlated highly in CP (p < 0.001, rho = 0.89), but not in TD. In children with CP, 60% of the daily life walking activity was at a slower speed than in-laboratory (corresponding percentile = 60). On the contrary, almost 60% of the daily life activity of TD was at a faster speed than in-laboratory (corresponding percentile = 42.5). Nevertheless, highly heterogeneous behaviors were observed within both populations and within subgroups of GMFCS level. At the group level, children with CP tend to under-perform during natural walking as compared to walking in a clinical environment. The heterogeneous behaviors at the individual level indicate that real-life gait performance cannot be directly inferred from in-laboratory capacity. This emphasizes the importance of completing clinical gait analysis with data from daily life, to better understand the overall function of children with CP.