Human movement science vol:27 issue:2 pages:296-309
Several studies have suggested that children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) have difficulties in the fine-tuning of manual force. However, parameterization of the generated force per se is hard to test under normal circumstances as movement planning and execution are also involved. In the present study, an isometric force production task was used to test the hypothesis that children with DCD have a decreased ability to scale force to a required force level and to maintain steady low to submaximal forces. We also tested if the developmental trends were different between the children with DCD and typically developing (TD) children. Twenty-four children with DCD and 24 matched TD children, divided over three age groups (7-9-11 years) participated in this study. Analysis of the data showed that DCD and TD children are equally able to adapt their generated force to the required levels, however DCD children produced a less steady force, even more variable than in the youngest TD children. These results suggest that problems in force control in children with DCD are caused by a higher level of inherent noise of the output system. Since younger DCD children are much more affected than older ones it is suggested that these children are able to learn a strategy to cope with their increased stochastic variability, especially at higher force levels. (c) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.