Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 183, Issue 4, pp 511–521 | Cite as

Uncontrolled manifold analysis of segmental angle variability during walking: preadolescents with and without Down syndrome

  • David P. BlackEmail author
  • Beth A. Smith
  • Jianhua Wu
  • Beverly D. Ulrich
Research Article


The uncontrolled manifold (UCM) approach allows us to address issues concerning the nature of variability. In this study we applied the UCM analysis to gait and to a population known for exhibiting high levels of performance variability, Down syndrome (DS). We wanted to determine if preadolescents (ages between 8 and 10) with DS partition goal-equivalent variability (UCM) and non-goal equivalent variability differently than peers with typical development (TD) and whether treadmill practice would result in utilizing greater amounts of functional, task-specific variability to accomplish the task goal. We also wanted to determine how variance is structured with respect to two important performance variables: center of mass (COM) and head trajectory at one specific event (i.e., heel contact) for both groups during gait. Preadolescents with and without DS walked on a treadmill below, at, and above their preferred overground speed. We tested both groups before and after four visits of treadmill practice. We found that children with DS partition more UCM variance than children with TD across all speeds and both pre and post practice. The results also suggest that more segmental configuration variance was structured such that less motion of COM than head position was exhibited at heel contact. Overall, we believe children with DS are employing a different control strategy to compensate for their inherent limitations by exploiting that variability that corresponds to successfully performing the task.


Uncontrolled manifold Down syndrome Walking 



We thank Masayoshi Kubo for programming assistance. We also wish to thank the children and families that participated in this study, particularly from the Michigan and northern Ohio parent-support groups. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) via a grant awarded to Beverly Ulrich (R01-HD42728–01).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • David P. Black
    • 1
    Email author
  • Beth A. Smith
    • 1
  • Jianhua Wu
    • 1
  • Beverly D. Ulrich
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of KinesiologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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