Reactive balance performance and neuromuscular and cognitive responses to unpredictable balance perturbations in children with developmental coordination disorder

Yoyo T.Y. Cheng, Wai Nam Tsang, Catherine Mary Schooling, Shirley S.M. Fong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a common motor disorder affecting balance performance. However, few studies have investigated reactive balance performance and the underlying mechanisms in children with DCD. This study aimed to compare the reactive balance performance, lower limb muscle reflex contraction latency and attention level in response to unpredictable balance perturbations between 100 typically developing children and 120 children with DCD (with and without comorbid autism spectrum disorder) aged 6–9 years. Reactive balance performance was evaluated using a motor control test (MCT) conducted on a computerized dynamic posturography machine. The lower limb postural muscle responses and attention level before, during and after a MCT were measured using surface electromyography and electroencephalography, respectively. The results revealed that relative to typically developing children, those with DCD had a significantly longer MCT latency score in the backward platform translation condition (p = 0.048) but a significantly shorter latency score in the forward platform translation condition (p = 0.024). The MCT composite latency scores and the corresponding lower limb muscle onset latencies were similar between the groups. Children with DCD also demonstrated a lower attention level during and after sudden backward (p = 0.042) and forward (p = 0.031) platform translations, compared to typically developing children. Children with DCD were less attentive in response to postural threats, and their balance responses were direction-specific. Balance training for children with DCD might require an additional emphasis on sudden posterior-to-anterior balance perturbations, as well as on problems with inattention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-26
Number of pages7
JournalGait and Posture
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Dyspraxia
  • Mental concentration
  • Neuromuscular reaction time
  • Postural control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation

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