Researchers Discover That Japanese Children Walk Differently

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Japanese Children Gait

Researchers analyzed 3D gait data recorded via several markers attached to the lower limbs. Credit: Tadashi Ito, Reiko Matsushita

Japanese children develop their manner of walking differently from children in other countries.

Researchers discovered that the way Japanese children walk, or their gait, develops differently from children in other nations.

Gait is a complicated, unconscious motor pattern that is required for the majority of everyday tasks. It consists of a series of motions involving the hip, knee, and foot. A person’s gait is critical in measuring their quality of life and health status from a medical standpoint. To help treat individuals with movement disorders, researchers are trying to understand the forces involved in gait. However, data on age-related gait parameters in children are scarce in Japan.

Tadashi Ito and Hideshi Sugiura from Nagoya University’s Department of Integrated Health Sciences, as well as Koji Noritake and Nobuhiko Ochi from the Aichi Prefectural Mikawa Aoitori Medical and Rehabilitation Center for Developmental Disabilities, determined the normative gait pattern of Japanese children. They investigated age-related differences in lower limb motions while walking using a 3D gait analysis system.

The study discovered that the recorded gait of Japanese elementary school students varies by age. Their findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports. Although typical Japanese children aged 6-12 have comparable gait patterns and gait parameters to children in other developed countries, their development differs.

Dr. Ito and his colleagues found four important differences among age groups. First, there was an increase in cadence, the number of steps performed in one minute, among children in the 11–12-year-old group compared to the 6-8 year group. Second, there was also a decrease in step and stride length among children aged 11–12 years compared to those aged 9–10 years. Third, children 11-12 years had less range of motion of the knee during the gait cycle. Fourth, as children aged, a higher plantarflexion moment was observed, which is the motion when you point your toes at the start of the walking movement.

“We believe that differences in lifestyle, build, and cultural factors all affect Japanese children’s gait,” said Dr. Ito. “This is not likely to affect the health of Japanese children. But it does indicate characteristics different from those of children in other countries. These results provide an important tool for assessing normal and pathological gait and can determine the effectiveness of orthopedic treatment and rehabilitation for gait disorders.”

Reference: “Three-dimensional gait analysis of lower extremity gait parameters in Japanese children aged 6 to 12 years” by Tadashi Ito, Koji Noritake, Yuji Ito, Hidehito Tomita, Jun Mizusawa, Hiroshi Sugiura, Naomichi Matsunaga, Nobuhiko Ochi, and Hideshi Sugiura, 12 May 2022, Scientific Reports.DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-11906-1

There was no acquisition of funding for this study.

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