Transverse myelitis (TM) in childhood is a rare disorder characterized by the presence of spinal cord inflammation. Gait difficulty in children with TM is common; however, there is a paucity of literature regarding quantitative assessment of gait in children and adolescents with TM.
To characterize gait patterns in a cohort of ambulatory children with TM and age-matched, typically developing peers in order to better understand the functional mobility of patients diagnosed with childhood TM.
This was a retrospective study of 26 ambulatory pediatric patients with a confirmed diagnosis of TM who had undergone three-dimensional, instrumented gait analysis (3D-IGA) at 3 years of age or older. A group of 38 typically developing children served as a control group.
Gait in children with TM was characterized by moderate kinematic deviations as measured by the Gait Deviation Index (GDI) and a crouched gait pattern (p < .001), increased anterior pelvic tilt (p < .001), decreased motion at the knees (p < .001), and a wider base of support (foot progression angle, p < .001). The TM group had a slower walking speed (p < .001), shorter strides (p < .001), and an increased stance phase compared to controls.
Our study results showed moderate kinematic deviations quantified by the GDI. Overall, the gait pattern in the TM population tested had greater hip and knee flexion with wider foot progression angle. Identification of gait characteristics in children with TM is the first step in predicting changes in gait pattern as they mature over time, which may ultimately allow for targeted intervention to maintain their ambulatory function.