Treadmill Training Helps Downs Syndrome Babies Walk Earlier

Babies on treadmills?  

A new study from University of Michigan Division of Kinesiology has revealed that starting Down syndrome infants on treadmill training for just minutes a day can help them walk up to four or five months earlier than with only traditional physical therapy.  Moreover, the study suggests that infants who do high intensity treadmill training may walk even sooner. (You can view a video clip of it here.)

The principal investigator of this project is Dr. Dale Ulrich who is a professor in Movement Science and Physical Education.  He said that getting infants walking is critical because so many other skills arise from  locomotion: social skills, motor skills, advancement of perception and spatial cognition. 

“The key is if we can get them to walk earlier and better then they can explore their environment earlier and when you start to explore, you learn about the world around you,” Ulrich said. “Walking is a critical factor in development in every other domain.”

Infants with typical development learn to walk independently at about 12 months of age. Babies with Down syndrome typically learn to take independent steps at 24-28 months.

In the study, 30 infants were randomly assigned lower intensity, generalized treadmill training, or high intensity, individualized treadmill training, implemented in the homes by their parents. The training was used as a supplement to physical therapy.

Read more…

The Center for Motor Behavior and Pediatric Disabilities of the University of Michigan provides Tips for Treadmill Training at Home.

Source: University of Michigan website.

Earlier Autism Diagnosis

Researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland recently conducted a study which found out that autism can be diagnosed at close to one year of age, which is the earliest the disorder has ever been diagnosed (Archives of General Psychiatry, July 2007).

Through repeated observation and the use of standardized tests of development, researchers identified, for the first time, disruptions in social, communication and play development that were indicative of ASD in 14-month olds. Multiple signs indicating these developmental disruptions appear simultaneously in children with the disorder.

Rebecca Landa, PhD, CCC-SLP, lead study author and director of the Kennedy Krieger Center for Autism and Related Disorders, and her colleagues identified the following signs of developmental disruptions for which parents and pediatricians should be watching:

  • Abnormalities in initiating communication with others: Rather than requesting help to open a jar of bubbles through gestures and vocalizations paired with eye contact, a child with ASD may struggle to open it themselves or fuss, often without looking at the nearby person.
  • Compromised ability to initiate and respond to opportunities to share experiences with others: Children with ASD infrequently monitor other people’s focus of attention. Therefore, a child with ASD will miss cues that are important for shared engagement with others, and miss opportunities for learning as well as for initiating communication about a shared topic of interest.
  • Irregularities when playing with toys: Instead of using a toy as it is meant to be used, such as picking up a toy fork and pretending to eat with it, children with ASD may repeatedly pick the fork up and drop it down, tap it on the table, or perform another unusual act with the toy.
  • Significantly reduced variety of sounds, words and gestures used to communicate: Compared to typically developing children, children with ASD have a much smaller inventory of sounds, words and gestures that they use to communicate with others.
  • “For a toddler with autism, only a limited set of circumstances — like when they see a favorite toy, or when they are tossed in the air — will lead to fleeting social engagement,” said Dr. Landa. “The fact that we can identify this at such a young age is extremely exciting, because it gives us an opportunity to diagnose children with ASD very early on when intervention may have a great impact on development.”

    The current study reveals that autism often involves a progression, with the disorder claiming or presenting itself between 14 and 24 months of age. Some children with only mild delays at 14 months of age could go on to be diagnosed with ASD. Dr. Landa and her colleagues observed distinct differences in the developmental paths, or trajectories, of children with early versus later diagnosis of ASD.

    Head over to Advance to read the article in full.

    Ergonomic and physiotherapeutic interventions for treating work-related complaints of the arm, neck or shoulder in adults. A Cochrane systematic review.

    Here is a journal article recently published at the Edizioni Minerva Medica site about the “Ergonomic and physiotherapeutic interventions for treating work-related complaints of the arm, neck or shoulder in adults. A Cochrane systematic review.”

    The objective of the study was to “determine whether conservative interventions have a significant impact on outcomes for work-related complaints of the arm, neck or shoulder (CANS) in adults.”

    The researchers concluded that…

    There is limited evidence for the effectiveness of keyboards with an alternative force-displacement of the keys or an alternative geometry, and limited evidence for the effectiveness of exercises compared to massage, breaks during computer work compared to no breaks; massage as an add-on treatment to manual therapy, and manual therapy as an add-on treatment to exercises.

    To view the full text of this article, click here.

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