Toe Walking Monitoring Device

Discuss getting a diagnosis, educational help & electronic devices and apps for autism.

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Toe Walking Monitoring Device

Postby twcapstone » Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:55 am


My name is Jack Elliot and I am part of a mechanical engineering project at Northeastern University focusing on monitoring/correcting toe walking in children on the autism spectrum. We were hoping to get some feedback from parents on what types of monitoring you currently do in-home. Our group is attempting to create a device that will track the gait patterns of children and provide a feedback mechanism to help promote unaffected walking. As parents, do you feel like a simple device like this could improve the current treatments available? We are not sure of the difficulties faced by both children and parents when attempting to correct toe-walking and any response we get from you, the parents would be immensely helpful.

Jack Elliot

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Re: Toe Walking Monitoring Device

Postby Santosg » Wed Aug 05, 2015 12:07 am

Hi Jack,

I think that such a device would be useful. I think it would best serve as a way to actually determine what method and/or device helps reduce toe walking most effectively. At an indivdiual level, the issue is not really how to measure to walking. Instead, it rests on how best to actually minimize it. Whether a child toe walks or not is fairly easily determined. I also feel it would not be that difficult to make a general assessment of whether the toe walking as improved, stayed the same, or gotten worse. That's now to say that these are not really just general estimates. But having more detailed data based on this basic criteria is only significant to the degree that actual strategies can be effectivelydeveloped. In this way, I think such a device would be best served as something that could test how well specific protocols reduce toe walking in a randomized, clinical sense. Hope this view is useful to you.

B.L. Pike
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Re: Toe Walking Monitoring Device

Postby B.L. Pike » Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:23 pm

This is sure an interesting topic, one I've never really thought about. Our son, now a young adult, walked on his toes when he was younger, but it never occurred to me to try and stop it. It seemed a mostly happy thing, not something he did when he was angry/frustrated. As for trying to interfere with toe-walking there were bigger fish to fry. Eventually he outgrew it, though when he's content and happy he still sometimes jumps on his toes. Good exercise, and it makes for strong legs.

So I'd agree with Santosg that monitoring toe walking might be a good research topic--maybe discover a tie-in to emotional state or frustration level? But I can't imagine as a parent wanting to track yet another behavior as an at-home exercise.

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Re: Toe Walking Monitoring Device

Postby Winnie » Wed Aug 05, 2015 11:27 pm

Hi Jack – this sounds like an interesting project, though I suspect a lot of parents might echo B.L.Pike’s sentiment regarding “bigger fish to fry” unless the toe-walking results in a significant physical problem.

It seems like reviewing the available literature on autism and gait and also collaborating with some other disciplines might be helpful in developing your objectives – some questions to consider might be:

1. What is the anticipated benefit to the child?

2. How will appropriate candidates for your device be determined? Who will evaluate the various aspects of gait (there are many aspects of gait related to autism) and how these relate to and affect toe-walking (collaboration with physical therapist with expertise in this area)?

3. In regard to the feedback mechanism, how will children with autism be taught to recognize and respond appropriately to the feedback, and how will this be reinforced (collaboration with behaviorist – BCBA – with expertise in this area)?

4. How is your proposed device/system different from the one in this study, for instance?

5. How does the cost of the device and collaborating professionals necessary to implement, as well as the necessary time and commitment of parents and teachers responsible for daily implementation, relate to need and anticipated benefit to child?
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Re: Toe Walking Monitoring Device

Postby AshleySpringer » Sun Aug 30, 2015 1:18 pm

Winnie posed some wonderful questions.

For many children, toe walking involves the seeking of proprioceptive input for self calming or organization of behavior. I think it is important to determine which children are using toe walking for this purpose, and weigh the benefits vs. adverse effects of "training" the toe walking away.

The type of feedback generated may also need to be tailored to the individual child and their cognitive and sensory profile.

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