Although there has been research conducted on motor development, children’s walking behavior, differences between adult and children’s gait with perturbation, and the effect of diaper perturbation versus unclothed on gait, there has been little to no research on different diaper perturbations on gait.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine how a physical perturbation (a dry and a wet diaper versus underwear) affect 13 to 19 month old children’s gait.
METHODS: The project was approved by the University’s IRB, and participation was granted with written consent from a legal guardian. Sixty children ranging from 13 to 19 months in age were recruited for this study. Each child completed five trials for three conditions in a single session. Each trial consisted of the child walking on an instrumented walkway (GaitRite CIR Systems, Sparta, NJ) for at least five continuous steps wearing a dry diaper, a wet diaper, and underwear, all of which were provided to the participants. Diapers were wet using a 100 ml syringe of room temperature water. Step length (m/step), step rate (steps/s), and left and right support base (m) were analyzed using a 7x3 MANOVA.
RESULTS: Significant main effects for age and condition, but no significant interaction were observed. For step length and rate, 13 and 19 months deviate from the means of each other and all the other ages. Step length: 0.21±0.04, 0.332±0.034, Step rate: 3.0±0.4, 3.7±0.6, 13 and 19 month respectively. Significant age difference was observed for left and right support base. Significant differences were also observed for left and right support base (1.4±.36, 1.5±.36 for wet diaper and underwear, respectfully), but not for step length and rate.
CONCLUSION: A wet diaper did not affect step length or step rate. However, there was an effect that occurred between age group and step length, step rate, left and right support base. These factors are impacted by maturation. Further research needs to address whether these conditions influence other gait parameters.