Locomotor Skills and Balance Strategies in Adolescents Idiopathic Scoliosis

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Study Design.Locomotor balance control assessment was performed to study the effect of idiopathic scoliosis on head-trunk coordination in 17 patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) and 16 control subjects.Objective.The aim of this study was to explore the functional effects of structural spinal deformations like idiopathic scoliosis on the balance strategies used during locomotion.Summary of Background Data.Up to now, the repercussion of the idiopathic scoliosis on head-trunk coordination and balance strategies during locomotion is relatively unknown.Methods.Seventeen patients with AIS (mean age 14 years 3 months, 10° < Cobb angle > 30°) and 16 control subjects (mean age 14 years 1 month) were tested during various locomotor tasks: walking on the ground, walking on a line, and walking on a beam. Balance control was examined in terms of rotation about the vertical axis (yaw) and on a frontal plane (roll). Kinematics of foot, pelvis, trunk, shoulder, and head rotations were measured with an automatic optical TV image processor in order to calculate angular dispersions and segmental stabilizations.Results.Decreasing the walking speed is the main adaptive strategy used in response to balance problems in control subjects as well as patients with AIS. However, patients with AIS performed walking tasks more slowly than normal subjects (around 15%). Moreover, the pelvic stabilization is preserved, despite the structural changes affecting the spine. Lastly, the biomechanical defect resulting from idiopathic scoliosis mainly affects the yaw head stabilization during locomotion.Conclusions.Patients with AIS show substantial similarities with control subjects in adaptive strategies relative to locomotor velocity as well as balance control based on segmental stabilization. In contrast, the loss of the yaw head stabilization strategies, mainly based on the use of vestibular information, probably reflects the presence of vestibular deficits in the patients with AIS.

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