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Idiopathic toe-walking (ITW) gait may present in children older than 3 years and in the absence of a medical condition known to cause or be associated with toe-walking gait. It is unknown how this gait type changes pressure distribution in the growing foot. We sought to determine whether children with ITW gait exhibit different plantar pressures and temporal gait features than typically developing children.
Children aged 3 to 6 years were recruited who had either a typical heel-toe gait pattern or a diagnosis of ITW. The ITW diagnosis was reported by the parent/caregiver and confirmed through history and physical examination. Temporal gait measures, peak pressures, and impulse percentages were measured. A minimum of ten unshod footprints were collected. Data were compared with unpaired t tests.
The study included 40 children with typical gait and 56 with ITW gait. The ITW group displayed lower peak pressures at the hallux, midfoot, and hindfoot (P < .05) and higher and lower pressure impulse percentages at the forefoot (P < .001) and hindfoot (P < .001), respectively. The ITW group spent a higher percentage of contact time at all areas of the forefoot and less at the midfoot and rearfoot (P < .05). There were no significant differences in total step duration and foot progression angle between groups (P > .05).
There were differences in pressure distributions between groups. Understanding these differences may help us better understand the compensations or potential long-term impact that ITW gait may have on a young child's foot. Podiatric physicians may also consider the use of this equipment in the clinical setting to measure outcomes after treatment for ITW.