Twenty-six healthy 5-year-old children were enrolled in a 7-year longitudinal study to examine the importance of age and speed in the characterization of ground reaction forces. One thousand forty gait trials of children walking at self-selected speeds were examined on the basis of age and normalized speed [speed/(height xg)1/2]. Results, presented as discrete peak and trough values and as continuous trace plots over the stance phase, indicated that there was little change in ground reaction forces with age, but there were significant changes in vertical force and anterior-posterior force values with normalized speed. The ground reaction force patterns in these children were characterized predominantly by normalized speed of progression and not age. The clinical relevance of these findings is that normalized speed of walking, rather than age, should be considered when comparing normal with pathological gait.
- ground reaction forces