Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Shah Alam
The characteristics of vertical ground reaction force (VGRF) gait patterns in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to identify VGRF gait features that discriminate between children with ASD and the peer control group. The VGRF data were obtained from 30 children with ASD and 30 normal healthy children aged 4 to 12 years. A three-dimensional motion analysis system with eight cameras and two force plates were used to collect VGRF data while subjects performed self-selected speed of barefoot walking. Parameterization techniques were applied to VGRF waveforms to extract the VGRF gait features. Mean significant differences between the two groups were tested using independent samples t-test and Mann-Whitney U test. Significant group differences were found for four VGRF gait features. Results indicated that children with ASD exhibited a significant reduction of the second peak of VGRF, earlier relative time to the occurrence of the second peak of VGRF, lower push-off rate, and higher peak ratio of the two VGRF peaks during normal speed of walking. These prominent differences showed that children with ASD had difficulties in supporting their body weight during terminal stance phase and these conditions affect the gait instability. The findings of this study develop further understanding of VGRF gait patterns that significantly differentiate between children with ASD and the peer control groups.