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J Child Neurol. 1997 Jan;12(1):37-41.

An instrument to measure independent walking: are there differences between preterm and fullterm infants?

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Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


In clinical practice walking independently has always been considered a major milestone in development. Nevertheless, little attention has been paid to the quality of movement expressed in the first attempts at walking free. Even when children achieve walking within a normal time range, some of them show features that are deviant. Early walking is difficult to judge, but at the same time may provide a sensitive means for detecting possible developmental impairments. The main aim of this paper is to provide a standardized clinical instrument for the qualitative assessment of early walking in a structured free field situation and to compare preterm and fullterm infants. All subjects were assessed 14 days after being able to walk 5 meters independently. The study group consisted of 52 children, of whom 33 were born prematurely (further distinguished in terms of being small- or appropriate-for-gestational age), and 19 were born fullterm. Judgments of walking performance were made in terms of optimal, near-optimal, near-poor, or poor. After correction for age, the preterm group was still later in the onset of walking, but more importantly, showed a qualitatively different pattern of locomotion. Those who were the youngest and small-for-gestational age were overrepresented in the near-poor and poor categories of walking.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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