Balance and gait in children with dyslexia

Rolf Moe-Nilssen*, Jorunn L. Helbostad, Joel B. Talcott, Finn Egil Toennessen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tests of postural stability have provided some evidence of a link between deficits in gross motor skills and developmental dyslexia. The ordinal-level scales used previously, however, have limited measurement sensitivity, and no studies have investigated motor performance during walking in participants with dyslexia. The purpose of this study was to investigate if continuous-scaled measures of standing balance and gait could discriminate between groups of impaired and normal readers when investigators were blind to group membership during testing. Children with dyslexia (n=22) and controls (n=18), aged 10-12 years, performed walking tests at four different speeds (slow-preferred-fast-very fast) on an even and an uneven surface, and tests of unperturbed and perturbed body sway during standing. Body movements were registered by a triaxial accelerometer over the lower trunk, and measures of reaction time, body sway, walking speed, step length and cadence were calculated. Results were controlled for gender differences. Tests of standing balance with eyes closed did not discriminate between groups. All unperturbed standing tests with eyes open showed significant group differences (P<0.05) and classified correctly 70-77.5% of the subjects into their respective groups. Mean walking speed during very fast walking on both flat and uneven surface was ≥0.2 m/s (P≤0.01) faster for controls than for the group with dyslexia. This test classified 77.5% and 85% of the subjects correctly on flat and uneven surface, respectively Cadence at preferred or very fast speed did not differ statistically between groups, but revealed significant group differences when all subjects were compared at a normalised walking speed (P≤0.04). Very fast walking speed as well as cadence at a normalised speed discriminated better between groups when subjects were walking on an uneven surface compared to a flat floor. Continuous-scaled walking tests performed in field settings may be suitable for motor skill assessment as a component of a screening tool for developmental dyslexia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-244
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
Early online date28 Apr 2003
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2003


  • dyslexia
  • accelerometry
  • gait
  • balance
  • motor skills


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