While the study group was a small one (15), researchers at the University of Michigan’s School of Kinesiology have reported supervised treadmill walking may help children with neuromotor delays. This study was reported yesterday in an article published in The Hindu.
Rosa Angulo-Barroso, Associate Professor of movement science at the School, and her colleagues followed 15 infants at risk for neuromotor delays over a period of two years. They tested the changes in physical activity and treadmill-stepping performed with parental supervision in the children’s homes. Six of these children had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
“We found that in those with neuromotor delays, the pattern of development through time was parallel (but less) than normal kids.” said Angulo-Barroso. “We also found less toe-walking, so foot placement improved.” Angulo-Barroso added. The study also suggests a critical intervention window. Both children without a diagnosis and kids with cerebral palsy improved the most between 10 months and 18 months.
As The Hindu article notes, “The study, “Treadmill Responses and Physical Activity Levels of Infants at Risk for Neuromotor Delay” appears in the journal Pediatric Physical Therapy.
It would be most interesting to see if a larger, multi-center, double-blind study could produce the same or similar results. I haven’t personally seen the ‘tot’ version of a treadmill, but a quick search on Google images does show some interesting devices (see picture on left). As researchers in the etiology and treatment of cerebral palsy keep working, the efforts of others such as reported here will potentially provide a wonderful interim measure toward helping these kids with special needs. We’ll try to keep an eye on this story and will report should more information become available.