The Hand Walkers, Part 2. Uner Tan Syndrome, the new research.

A year ago we wrote our first piece on Uner Tan Syndrome. We have always been interested in the neurodevelopmental windows of children and their process of moving through the various movement phases in the hopes of gaining clean upright bipedal gait. In our clinics daily we see many soft signs of sensory-motor pattern aberrancies that result in foot problems such as lack of pronatory control, or torsional long bone abnormalities and failures to protect frontal plane deviations (to name a very small few). In fact, these soft seonsory-motor signs and patterns can be found globally if one knows what to look for.  In our clinics we rarely see the serious neuro-developmental problems but Uner Tan Syndrome (UTS) has always been one of interest to us. We recently received a very kind email from Turkey, from Dr. Uner Tan himself, asking to reference some of our work so this was a serious honor.  The email sparked us to look into his research to look for newer work and we were happy to find it. Before we start into the new research findings, you will want to take a few minutes to read our last blog piece on Uner Tan Syndrome: The Hand Walkers.

This previous blog post discussed much of the research that was current at the time.  The following was from our previous blog post  on UTS  

UTS is a syndrome proposed by the Turkish evolutionary biologist Uner Tan. Persons affected by this syndrome walk with a quadrupedal locomotion and are afflicted with primitive speech, habitual quadrupedalism, impaired intelligence. Tan postulated that this is a plausible example of “backward evolution”. MRI brain scans showed changes in cerebellar development which you should know after a year of our blog reading means that balance and motor programming might be thus impaired.  PET scans showed a decreased glucose metabolic activity in the cerebellum, vermis and, to a lesser extent the cerebral cortex in the majority of the patients. All of the families assessed had consanguineous marriages in their lineage suggesting autosomal recessive transmission. The syndrome was genetically heterogeneous.  

However, some startling new research has recently surfaced and if most are paying attention, they will see the value in our 1000+ blog posts here at The Gait Guys but more so discover Dr. Tan’s most startling conclusion from the Frontiers in Neurology article below. We are currently moving through the most recent research so you will want to check in with us again soon for our follow up blog posts on this topic. 

Here was Dr. Tan’s et al abstract conclusion of his most recent research, and we think it is earth shattering.

Human quadrupedalism is not an epiphenomenon caused by neurodevelopmental malformation and ataxia.  

Two cases with quadrupedal locomotion (QL) were presented. In both cases, cognitive and psychiatric functions were normal and, no neurological deficits were observed, except for a sequel paralysis of left leg in Case 2. It was suggested that human QL (1) should not be considered as an epiphenomenon caused by neurodevelopmental malformation and ataxia, but (2) may be considered as a re-emergence of the ancestral diagonal QL, and (3) it may spontaneously emerge in humans with entirely normal brains, by taking advantage of neural networks such as central pattern generators that have been preserved for about 400 million years.

We will have more to come shortly, but for now, realizing that the human brain, even when normal, can take advantage of neural networks encompassing Central Pattern Generators (CPG’s) that have been suppressed for 400 million years is startling information in our opinion.

Check back in with us soon.

Dr. Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys


Front Neurol. 2012 Oct 25;3:154. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2012.00154. eCollection 2012. Karaca S1, Tan MTan U. Human quadrupedalism is not an epiphenomenon caused by neurodevelopmental malformation and ataxia.