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Motor Skills, Sensory Processing and Toe Walking

I ran across a blogpost recently on TheGaitGuys discussing idiopathic toe walking in children. They mentioned a recent article in the Journal of Child Neurology that investigated the differences between the motor skills and sensory processing abilities of children who do and do not have an idiopathic toe walking gait.  Sixty children (30 with idiopathic toe walking and 30 without), ages 4 though 8, were tested with a number of norm referenced assessments.

The results indicated that when compared to children who did not toe walk, children with an idiopathic toe walking gait had:

1.  different Sensory Profile quadrant scores

2.  poorer performance on the Bruininks–Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency

3.  lower vibration perception threshold

4.  poorer performance on the Standing Walking Balance subtest of the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test.

TheGaitGuys blog post discusses how  the researchers “found that only the areas of balance, upper body coordination and bilateral coordination were areas found to be problematic in the toe walkers. These 3 components require the integration of the tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive systems as a team“.

The research does not reveal a direct cause for toe walking gait but it does provide some suggestions as to why idiopathic toe walking may not be truly idiopathic after all.


TheGaitGuys. Toe Walking in Children. Do you know what you are dealing with ? Part 2.  Retrieved from the web on 2/3/15 at http://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/post/103571941844/toe-walking-in-children-do-you-know-what-you-are.

Cylie M. Williams, Paul Tinley, Michael Curtin, Suzanne Wakefield, and Sharon Nielsen
Is Idiopathic Toe Walking Really Idiopathic? The Motor Skills and Sensory Processing Abilities Associated With Idiopathic Toe Walking Gait. J Child Neurol January 2014 29: 71-78, first published on January 24, 2013 doi:10.1177/0883073812470001


Taming Idiopathic Toe Walking: A Treatment Guide for Parents and Therapists is a great electronic or print book that provides a non-invasive, efficient and effective sensory treatment strategy for children and adolescents that display atypical toe walking.

Written by renowned Occupational Therapist, Ileana S. McCaigue, OTR/L, ‘Taming Idiopathic Toe Walking: A Treatment Guide for Parents and Therapists’ serves as a definitive manual for children and adolescents that display atypical toe walking behaviors. Inspired by the overcoming of toe walking by numerous children during her years of practice,  McCaigue’s professional expertise and personal experiences are fused into a powerful resource.  FIND OUT MORE.