Differences in walking and running gait in children with and without developmental coordination disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Mitchell Smith, Emily Ward, Cylie M. Williams, Helen A. Banwell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a common motor skills disorder in children. Although gait changes are often reported clinically, affecting children's participation in play and sport, there has been no synthesis of research evidence comparing gait of children with and without DCD. Thus, the aim of this research was to determine differences in gait between children with and without DCD Methods: A search of electronic databases (AMED, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Embase, Medline, SPORTDiscus, & Web of Science) was conducted from inception to August 2019 for studies comparing walking and/or running gait of children with and without DCD. The McMaster Critical Appraisal Form for Quantitative Studies was used to assess risk of bias amongst included studies. Meta-analysis was completed on measures with four or more homogenous outcomes. Results: 20 studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were eligible for review – three of which were pre-post designs, and 17 were cross-sectional designs. Data was extracted in five domains: kinetics, kinematics, physical function, electromyography, and temporospatial parameters. Meta-analysis was performed on one outcome measure – the 6 min Walk Test (6MWT), finding that children with DCD walked significantly shorter distances, indicating reduced endurance in walking gait. Other statistically significant results all favoured typically developing children, however there is little consistency between studies. Conclusion: Although a clear gait pattern for children with DCD is not evident, functional deficits appear to be present in endurance and cardiorespiratory fitness. The current evidence base for gait changes in DCD is currently low-level, and further high quality research is warranted. PROSPERO registration number: CRD42018106791

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-184
Number of pages8
JournalGait and Posture
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Children
  • Developmental coordination disorder
  • Gait
  • Meta-analysis
  • Running
  • Systematic review
  • Walking

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