Scoliosis: lower limb asymmetries during the gait cycle


  • Cassandra Kay Haber Department of Physiotherapy, Mater Dei Hospital, Msida, Malta
  • Mark Sacco Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Mater Dei Hospital, Room 10, Block A, Level 1, Msida, Malta



Scoliosis, Gait analysis, Speed of gait, Ground reaction force, Electromyography


Background: Several studies indicate that the gait pattern of subjects suffering from scoliosis differs from the norm. However, there is conflicting evidence regarding the source of this discrepancy. Objective: To evaluate lower limb asymmetries in selected gait variables. Study design: A case–control study on lower limb asymmetries during gait which can be related to scoliosis. Methods: 31 subjects with scoliosis (Study Group - SG) and an equal comparative control sample (Control Group – CG) of subjects underwent objective gait analysis with the Vicon® motion caption system whilst walking at a comfortable speed along the gait laboratory walkway. Analysis was performed at three levels: (1) Asymmetry in the SG against asymmetry in the CG, (2) Difference in magnitude of asymmetry between the SG and CG, and (3) Global mean values in the SG vs. CG. The Paired Student T-Test was used for intra-group analysis whilst the Independent Student T-Test was used for inter-group analysis of the selected parameters, which include temporal parameters (stride length, stride time, step length, individual step speed, speed of gait, cadence, swing-to-stance ratio), ground reaction force (peak GRF values during Loading and Propulsion phases, vertical component only) and electromyography (peak EMG values and their time of onset, as a percentage of the gait cycle) of two lower limb muscles (Gastronemius and Vastus Medialis). Results: No intra-group variation was found to be significant. However, the speed of gait was found to be significantly slower (p = 0.03) in scoliotic subjects when compared to the norm, as a result of the shorter stride length (p = 0.002 and longer stride time (p = 0.001) in the SG. Furthermore, there was statistical significance in the time of onset of EMG peaks for the Lateral Gastrocnemius (p = 0.02) with regards to inter-group difference in magnitude of lower limb asymmetry and global mean values. Conclusions: Scoliosis is a tri-planar deformity which has some impact on the gait pattern. This research study concludes that scoliotic subjects have a slower speed of gait due to a shorter stride length and a longer stride time, together with variations in the timing of muscle activation.


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How to Cite

Haber, C. K., & Sacco, M. (2015). Scoliosis: lower limb asymmetries during the gait cycle. Archives of Physiotherapy, 5(1).



Research Article