The purpose of this study was to examine the dynamic stability of two groups of children with different dynamic resources in changing contexts. The stability of the lower extremity segments of preadolescent children (8–10 years old) with and without Down syndrome (DS) was evaluated as children walked on a motorized treadmill at varying speeds. Tools from nonlinear dynamics, maximum Lyapunov exponent, and approximate entropy were used to assess the behavioral stability of segmental angular displacements of the thigh, shank, and foot. Our results suggest that children with DS show decreased dynamic stability during walking in all segments and that this might be a consequence of inherently different subsystem constraints between these groups. Differences between groups also varied, though not uniformly, with speed, suggesting that inherent differences could further constrain the behavioral response to changing task demands.
The authors are with the Division of Kinesiology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2214.