Evaluating physical activity using accelerometry in children at risk of developmental coordination disorder in the presence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder Academic Article uri icon

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  • Physical activity (PA) is compromised in children and adolescents with developmental coordination disorder (DCD). Approximately half of all children with DCD suffer from attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD); a cohort often considered more physically active than typically developing youth. Accelerometry is an effective method of assessing physical activity patterns; although estimates of PA in children with DCD using this quantifiable method have not been attempted. We hypothesize that children with co-morbid DCD/ADHD will be more physically active than children with DCD and healthy peers. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to contrast physical activity (step count and activity energy expenditure using accelerometry [AEE]) between children with DCD, co-morbid DCD and ADHD (DCD/ADHD), and healthy controls. A sample of 110 children with DCD (N=32), DCD/ADHD (N=30) and controls (N=48) age 12-13 years agreed to participate. Co-morbid DCD/ADHD was present in nearly half of the children with DCD (48.4%). Analysis of covariance demonstrated a positive interaction for females step count (F[1,92]=4.92, p=0.009). A significant group difference for step count (F[1,92]=4.43, p=.04) was identified in females. Post hoc comparison tests identified significantly lower step count between males with DCD and controls (p=.004) and males with DCD/ADHD and controls (p=0.003). Conversely, females with DCD/ADHD had significantly more step counts than their controls (p=.01). Hyperactivity in females with DCD/ADHD appears to contribute to more physical activity, whereas DCD may contribute to decreased activity in males with DCD and DCD/ADHD. Hyperactivity expressed among girls with DCD/ADHD appears to override the hypoactive behavior associated with females with DCD. Conversely, the expression of hyperactivity among boys with DCD/ADHD does not translate as hypothesized. The contrasting expression of physical activity (i.e., step count and AEE) evaluated using accelerometry in boys and girls with DCD, co-morbid DCD/ADHD and healthy peers are intriguing and constitute further investigation in a larger investigation.


  • Baerg, Sally
  • Cairney, John
  • Hay, John
  • Rempel, Lynn
  • Mahlberg, Nadilein
  • Faught, Brent E

publication date

  • July 2011