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Center for Motor Behavior & Pediatric Disabilities

Current Research

Understanding and modeling the gait patterns of individuals with Down Syndrome

Contact: Beverly Ulrich (
              Cheryl Drenning (

This project includes several studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The broad goal is to examine how mathematically modeling the dynamics of walking in persons with Down syndrome (DS) can help us understand the strategies they use to accomplish this functional behavior. In our studies we will be working with new walkers, following the changes in their walking patterns over time, as well as preadolescents and elderly person with DS. In addition, we are conducting validation studies and exploring options for modifying the equations in order to account for behavior as precisely and accurately as possible. By understanding better the walking strategies "chosen" by persons with DS, we may be able to assist therapists in creating better intervention strategies.

Recently, we completed the first study in which we analyzed the walking patterns of preadolescents with and without DS when they walked overground and on a treadmill at varied speeds. Our data show that children with DS produce significantly higher levels of stiffness and forcing than their peers with typical development (TD) when walking on a treadmill, at all speeds. Yet, when walking overground, stiffness values are not different although children with DS generate greater overall forces to maintain their body's forward momentum (Ulrich, Haehl, Buzzi, Kubo, & Holt 2004).

If you would like to learn more about participating in one of our studies, please call us at (734) 615-1494 or email us at When calling, please request Cheryl Drenning and reference the Down syndrome modeling study. The age groups with which we are currently working are: newly walking (starting when the child can take just 3 steps), 8-10 year-olds, and 35-55 year-olds.

All Current Research

Center for Motor Behavior & Pediatric Disabilities
401 Washtenaw Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2214
(734)936-2607, Fax (734)936-1925

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Created September 1, 1999