Profiling Movement and Gait Quality Characteristics in Pre-School Children

Publication authors

Clark CCT, Barnes CM, Swindell NJ, Holton MD, Bingham DD, Collings PJ, Barber SE, Summers HD, Mackintosh KA, Stratton G


There is a dearth of suitable metrics capable of objectively quantifying motor competence. Further, objective movement quality characteristics during free-play have not been investigated in early years’ children. The aims of this study were to characterise children’s free-play physical activity and to investigate how gait quality characteristics cluster with free-play in children (3-5y). Sixty-one children (39 boys, 4.3±0.7y, 1.04±0.05m, 17.8±3.2kg) completed the movement assessment battery for children and took part in free-play whilst wearing an ankle- and hip-mounted accelerometer. Characteristics of movement quality were profiled using a clustering algorithm. Spearman’s rho and the Mann-Whitney U tests were used to assess relationships between movement quality characteristics and motor competence classification differences in integrated acceleration and spectral purity, respectively. Significant differences were found between motor competency classifications for spectral purity and integrated acceleration (P<0.001). Spectral purity was hierarchically clustered with motor competence and integrated acceleration. Significant positive correlations were found between spectral purity, integrated acceleration and motor competence (P<0.001). This is the first study to report spectral purity in early years’ children and our results suggest that the underlying frequency component of movement is clustered with motor competence.