Proprioception, balance and lower limb strength in Nigerian children (7-10 years) with Generalized Joint Hypermobility and Developmental Coordination Disorder

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Background and justification: African children are reported as having a higher prevalence of generalised joint hypermobility (GJH) than their Caucasian counterparts. It is believed that abnormal joint biomechanics as a result of the joint laxity contribute to the damage of joints. The ability to perceive movement or position sense at joints (proprioception) is necessary for good postural control and motor performance. Sensory receptors carry information from the joints to the central nervous system for interpretation and appropriate motor response. Damage to these receptors or joint pain may have a negative effect on proprioception and motor control. A number of children with GJH also present with poor motor coordination and some may even have Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Children with DCD and GJH also have similar functional difficulties. Both groups of children display difficulty in motor activities at school and home and are referred to as clumsy. There is evidence that poor motor coordination seen in children with DCD may be as a result of their inability to adequately control their flexible joints during movement. The role proprioception, balance and muscle strength plays in the relationship between GJH and DCD is still not clear. Aims and objectives: The main aim of this study was to determine whether proprioception, standing balance and strength in the lower limbs was different between children with GJH and children with normal joint mobility (NM). The specific objectives were to firstly identify the prevalence of GJH in a sample of Nigerian children and determine whether age and gender are related with the prevalence of GJH. Secondly, to determine whether having DCD or not was associated with differences in performance on these measures in children with and without GJH.