Developmental implications of idiopathic toe walking

L. H. Shulman, D. A. Sala, M. L.Y. Chu, P. R. McCaul, B. J. Sandler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether children with persistent toe walking, without suspected developmental problems, and with normal results after neurologic examination, who were seen in an orthopedic clinic demonstrate delays in language development, gross or fine motor skills, visuomotor development, sensory integration function, or evidence of behavioral problems through a comprehensive multidisciplinary evaluation. Study design: A prospective, descriptive study of 13 children (mean age = 3.9 years) referred for idiopathic toe walking. Each child was evaluated by a pediatric neurologist, developmental pediatrician, speech/language pathologist, occupational therapist, and physical therapist. Results: On developmental screening, 7 of 13 children demonstrated delays and 3 were questionably delayed; all 10 had speech/language deficits. Speech/language evaluation showed that 10 of 13 (77%) had receptive or expressive language delays or both. Occupational and physical therapy evaluations found 4 of 12 (33%) had fine motor delays, 4 of 10(40%) had visuomotor delays, and 3 of 11 (27%) had gross motor delays. Conclusions: Idiopathic toe walking was most often associated with speech/language delays, but delays in other areas were also present. We suggest that idiopathic toe walking should, be viewed as a marker for developmental problems and recommend that any child with this condition should be referred for a developmental assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-546
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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