Journal of Neurology

, Volume 254, Issue 10, pp 1330–1338 | Cite as

Gait in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Effects of methylphenidate and dual tasking
  • Yael Leitner
  • Ran Barak
  • Nir Giladi
  • Chava Peretz
  • Rena Eshel
  • Leor Gruendlinger
  • Jeffrey M. Hausdorff



Cognitive function and the loading of attention presumably play an important role in gait as well as in fall risk, but previous work has not demonstrated this in any cause-and-effect way.


To gain insight into the relationship between gait and cognitive function, we sought: (1) To compare the gait rhythmicity (stride time variability) of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to controls, (2) To test the hypothesis that dual tasking leads to increased stride-to-stride variability in ADHD, and (3) To test whether pharmacological treatment that relieves ADHD symptoms reduces stride-to-stride variability.

Patients and Methods

Gait was quantified in children with ADHD and in age-matched healthy controls under single task and dual task conditions on three occasions: off medications (both groups) and, in the ADHD group, after double blinded, randomized administration of methylphenidate (MPH) or placebo.


At baseline, children with ADHD tended to walk with increased stride-to-stride variability compared to the controls during the single task condition (p = 0.09). During dual task walking, stride time variability was significantly reduced in the children with ADHD (p < 0.004), but not in the controls. In the children with ADHD, the placebo did not significantly affect stride-to-stride variability or the dual tasking response. In contrast, stride time variability was significantly reduced on MPH (p < 0.001) such that dual tasking no longer affected variability.


The present findings demonstrate alterations in the gait of children with ADHD, support a cause and effect link between cognitive function and gait, and suggest that enhancement of attention abilities may, in certain populations, improve gait rhythmicity.

Key words

gait attention dual task cognitive function ADHD 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yael Leitner
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ran Barak
    • 1
  • Nir Giladi
    • 3
    • 4
  • Chava Peretz
    • 3
    • 4
  • Rena Eshel
    • 1
  • Leor Gruendlinger
    • 3
    • 6
  • Jeffrey M. Hausdorff
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Paediatric Neurology Unit & Child Development CenterTel-Aviv Sourasky Medical CenterTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.Dept. of Pediatrics, Sackler School of MedicineTel-Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  3. 3.Dept. of Neurology, Movement Disorders UnitTel-Aviv Sourasky Medical CenterTel AvivIsrael
  4. 4.Dept. of Physical Therapy and Neurology, Sackler School of MedicineTel-Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  5. 5.Division on AgingHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  6. 6.Laboratory for Gait & Neurodynamics, Movement Disorders UnitTel-Aviv Sourasky Medical CenterTel-AvivIsrael

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