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Growth Spurts Can Throw Off Teen Boys' Strut

Coordination may be affected by quick addition of height, researchers say

FRIDAY, May 20, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Growth spurts can affect teen boys' coordination and knock the swagger right out of their stride, a new study reveals.

"A sudden increase in height affects the body's ability to control established motor skills, such as walking," said lead author Maria Cristina, of the University of Bologna, Italy.

The study included 88 boys who were 15 years old. Those with growth spurts -- defined as a height increase of more than 3 centimeters (1.2 inches) over three months -- had a more awkward gait than those with steady growth, the researchers found.

"Adolescents tend to show previous control of the body when growing up, but the motor control behavior is organized on the body's dimensions. Following a growth spurt, the body needs time to adjust to changes to the periphery, during which time a teenager may walk awkwardly, while teenagers who grow steadily are able to handle growth modifications better and so maintain smoothness and regularity when walking," Cristina explained in a news release from the journal Biomedical Engineering OnLine.

Growth spurts may not be the only factor that affects a teen's coordination. Teens are experiencing a number of biological, mental, social and emotional changes that could also impact motor development, the researchers noted.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on teen physical development.

SOURCE: Biomedical Engineering OnLine, news release, May 19, 2016

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