Gait in 5-year-old children with idiopathic clubfoot: A cohort study of 59 children, focusing on foot involvement and the contralateral foot.

Idiopathic clubfoot can be bilateral or unilateral; however, most studies of gait have assessed clubfoot cases as one uniform group. The contralateral foot in children with unilateral clubfoot has shown deviations in pedobarographic measurements, but it is seldom included in studies of gait. The team evaluated gait in children with idiopathic clubfoot, concentrating on foot involvement. Three-dimensional gait analyses of 59 children, mean age 5.4 years, with bilateral (n = 30) or unilateral (n = 29) idiopathic clubfoot were stratified into groups of bilateral, unilateral, or contralateral feet. Age-matched controls (n = 28) were evaluated for comparison. Gait assessment included: (1) discrete kinematic and kinetic parameters, and (2) gait deviation index for kinematics (GDI) and kinetics (GDI-k). No differences in gait were found between bilateral and unilateral idiopathic clubfoot, but both groups deviated when compared to controls. Compared to control feet, contralateral feet showed no deviations in discrete gait parameters, but discrepancies were evident in relation to unilateral clubfoot, causing gait asymmetries in children with unilateral involvement. However, all groups deviated significantly from control feet according to GDI and GDI-k. Interpretation – Bilateral and unilateral idiopathic clubfoot cases show the same persistent deviations in gait, mainly regarding reduced plantarflexion.

Nevertheless, knowledge of foot involvement is important as children with unilateral clubfoot show gait asymmetries, which might give an impression of poorer deviations. The results of GDI/GDI-k indicate global gait adaptations of the contralateral foot, so the foot should preferably not be used as a reference for gait.