Spinal alignment evolution with age: A prospective gait analysis study

  • Pesenti Sebastien
  • Blondel Benjamin
  • Peltier Emilie
  • Viehweger Elke
  • Pomero Vincent
  • Authier Guillaume
  • Fuentes Stephane
  • Jouve Jean-Luc


AIM To describe, using gait analysis, the development of spinal motion in the growing child. METHODS Thirty-six healthy children aged from 3 to 16 years old were included in this study for a gait analysis (9 m-walk). Various kinematic parameters were recorded and analyzed such as thoracic angle (TA), lumbar angle (LA) and sagittal vertical axis (SVA). The kinetic parameters were the net reaction moments (N.m/kg) at the thoracolumbar and lumbosacral junctions. RESULTS TA and LA curves were not statistically correlated to the age (respectively, p = 0.32 and p = 0.41). SVA increased significantly with age (p < 0.001). Moments in sagittal plane at the lumbosacral junction were statistically correlated to the age (p = 0.003), underlining the fact that sagittal mechanical constraints at the lumbosacral junction increase with age. Moments in transversal plane at the thoracolumbar and lumbosacral junctions were statistically correlated to the age (p = 0.0002 and p = 0.0006), revealing that transversal mechanical constraints decrease with age. CONCLUSION The kinetic analysis showed that during growth, a decrease of torsional constraint occurs while an increase of sagittal constraint is observed. These changes in spine biomechanics are related to the crucial role of the trunk for bipedalism acquisition, allowing stabilization despite lower limbs immaturity. With the acquisition of mature gait, the spine will mainly undergo constraints in the sagittal plane.