Journal Article

Learning a novel rhythmic stepping task in children with probable Developmental Coordination Disorder


Background. Developmental coordination disorder affects approximately 6% of children, interfering with participation in physical activity and can persist through adulthood. However, no studies have investigated the neuromotor mechanisms of learning of a novel task with rhythmic cueing. Methods. Movement Assessment Battery for Children-2nd edition was used to identify 48 children with probable developmental coordination disorder (13.9 ± 0.05 yrs., 27% male) and 37 typically developed (13.9 ± 0.10 yrs., 54% male). While instrumented with an inertial measurement unit, both groups performed a novel rhythmic stepping task and with a concurrent auditory stroop test (dual-task), underwent seven weeks of intervention with step training with rhythmic cuing and were tested for retention five weeks post-intervention. Findings. Initially, the group with probable developmental coordination disorder had a higher variability of step timing (coefficient of variation: 0.08 ± 0.003-typically developed – 0.09 ± 0.004-probable developmental coordination disorder, p < 0.05) and a frequency of peak power spectral density further from the target 0.5 Hz (0.50 ± 0.002 Hz-typically developed – 0.51 ± 0.003 Hz-probable developmental coordination disorder, p < 0.05), and were more affected by the dual-task: power spectral density at 0.5 Hz (−7.2 ± 3.3%-typically developed – -13.4 ± 4.6%- prob_DCD, p < 0.05) and stroop test errors (6.4 ± 1.1%-typically developed – -11.1 ± 2.4%- probable developmental coordination disorder, p < 0.05). The intervention led to similar improvements in both groups in coefficient of variation of step timing (0.12 ± 0.01-Pre – 0.07 ± 0.002-Post, p < 0.05), frequency of the peak power spectral density (0.51 ± 0.005 Hz-Pre – 0.50 ± 0.001 Hz-Post, p < 0.05) and relative power spectral density bandpower (3.2 ± 0.2%-Pre – 5.9 ± 0.3%-Post, p < 0.05). All improvements were retained after five weeks post-training. Interpretation. Rhythmic cueing shows strong promise for enhancing motor learning in children with probable developmental coordination disorder.

Attached files


Inacio, Mario
Esser, Patrick
Weedon, Benjamin David
Joshi, Shawn
Meaney, Andy
Delextrat, Anne
Springett, Daniella
Kemp, Steve
Ward, Tomas
Izadi, Hooshang
Johansen-Berg, Heidi
Dawes, Helen

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work
School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics


Year of publication: 2023
Date of RADAR deposit: 2023-01-31

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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