Effect of Backward Walking on Attention: Possible Application on ADHD
Di Costanzo, Alfonso
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The human requires attentive effort as assessed in dual-task experiments. Consistently, an attentive task can modify the walking pattern and a attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is accompanied by gait modifications. Here we investigated the relationships between backward walking and attentive performances in ADHD children (n=13) and healthy age-, height and weight matched controls (n=17). We evaluated the attentive/impulsive profile by means of a Go/No-Go task and the backward and forward gait parameters by step length, cadence and Froude number. Moreover, to test the causal relationship between attention and gait parameters, we trained children to walk backward. The training program consisted of 10 min backward walking session, thrice a week for two months. Results showed a significant negative correlation between Froude number during backward walking and reaction time in the Go/No-Go test. Besides, after training with backward walking control children increased their cadence by 9.3% and their Froude number by 17% during backward walking. Conversely, ADHD children did not modify their walking parameters after training, and showed a significant reduction in their number of errors in the Go/No-Go task (-49%) compared to the score before the training. These data suggest that specific physical training with attention-demanding tasks may improve attentive performance.