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J Intellect Disabil Res. 2019 Jun;63(6):576-586. doi: 10.1111/jir.12599. Epub 2019 Jan 28.

Dual-task effects on postural sway during sit-to-stand movement in children with Down syndrome.

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Physical Therapy Department, Neuropediatrics Sector, Federal University of São Carlos, São Carlos, Brazil.
Department of Physical Education, Federal University of São Carlos - UFSCar, São Carlos, Brazil.



Cognitive and postural tasks require common cognitive mechanisms, resulting in conflicts when both tasks are simultaneously performed. The presence of neuromotor dysfunctions, such as Down syndrome, may impair coordination processes required to perform dual-tasks. The objective of this study was to investigate the dual-task effects on postural sway during sit-to-stand movements in typical children and children with Down syndrome in a cross-sectional study.


Twenty six typical children (10.2 ± 2.4 years) and 21 with Down syndrome (10.3 ± 2.3 years) performed sit-to-stand in the following conditions: (1) simple task; (2) dual-task bimanual activity (DT-Bim): sit-to-stand while carrying a tray using both hands; (3) dual-task unimanual dominant activity (DT-Uni-Dom): sit-to-stand while holding a plastic cup simulating water using the dominant hand; (4) dual-task unimanual non-dominant activity (DT-Uni-Nondom): sit-to-stand movement while holding a plastic cup simulating water. For data analysis, sit-to-stand was divided into three phases: preparation (phase 1), rising (phase 2), and stabilisation (phase 3). The following variables were calculated for each phase: anterior-posterior and medial-lateral amplitude of centre-of-pressure displacement, anterior-posterior and medial-lateral velocity of centre-of-pressure sway and area of centre-of-pressure sway.


Children with Down syndrome showed greater sway than typical children in all sit-to-stand phases. Typical children showed greater anterior-posterior amplitude in phase 2 of sit-to-stand during DT-Uni Nondom compared with DT-Uni Dom. Children with Down syndrome during simple task condition showed greater and faster values sway in phases 2 and 3 of sit-to-stand movement than in DT-Bim activity, DT-Uni Dom activity and DT-Uni Nondom activity. During the condition of DT-Bim activity, these children showed lower anterior-posterior velocity of sway in phase 2 than during DT-Uni Dom activity.


Children with Down syndrome showed greater postural sway during sit-to-stand than typical children. The addition of a concurrent motor task to sit-to-stand impacted postural sway in different intensities and in different ways across groups. Dual-tasks increased body sway in typical children in the DT-Uni Nondom condition compared with dominant one. In children with Down syndrome, dual-tasks decreased body sway, apparently resulting in a postural strategy of stiffness.


Down syndrome; children; dual-task; postural control; sit-to-stand


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