Becky PK Tsang, Shirley SM Fong and Gabriel YF Ng
The aims of this study were to evaluate the gait abnormalities in children with Asperger syndrome (AS) and to investigate the effectiveness of rhythmical auditory stimulation (RAS) on gait training in children with this condition. Five children with AS (mean age: 8.5 ± 2.0 years) and 6 children with normal development (mean age: 9.5 ± 2.0 years) participated in this study. The participants were asked to walk on a treadmill under each of the following conditions conducted in sequence: (1) walk at a comfortable speed with no RAS (baseline), (2) walk at a comfortable speed accompanied by RAS (sound-on condition), and (3) walk again at a comfortable speed with no RAS (sound-off condition). The temporal and kinematic gait parameters of the walking in each condition were recorded with a VICON 370 system. No significant differences were found among the baseline, sound-on, and sound-off gait parameters in either group. The children with AS rotated their pelvis more during walking than the control group did at baseline (p=0.018) and during the sound-on (p=0.011) condition. Moreover, the control group spent less time in the doubleleg supporting position in the sound-on and subsequent sound-off condition than the AS group did. No statistically significant differences were found between the two groups in all other gait parameters (i.e., step length, step width, step height, hip and knee joint angles at mid-stance phase of gait) in the three testing conditions. The children with AS demonstrated excessive pelvic rotation during walking when compared to children with normal development. A short period of gait training with RAS might not be able to improve the walking pattern in children with AS.