Julia Looper PT, PhD
Background: Children with Down syndrome (DS) on average take independent steps at 24-26 months compared to 12 months for typically developing children. In-home treadmill training has been shown to be an effective intervention to reduce delayed walking onset for infants with DS.
Purpose: To see if 20 minutes of in clinic treadmill training twice a week for infants with DS is a feasible intervention.
Methods: Participants must pull to stand independently but not yet walk. Pre-intervention testing included 5 minutes of treadmill walking and scores for sections D and E of Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM). 20 minute treadmill sessions occurred twice a week for 8 weeks. Walking time, mood and mileage were recorded. Post-intervention testing was identical to pre-intervention testing. Step rates were analyzed and changes in GMFM scores were calculated.
Results: All subjects improved their step count pre- to post-test. Subjects 1 and 3 improved their GMFM-D scores by 14 and 2 points, respectively. Subjects 1, 2 and 3 improved their GMFM-E scores by 6, 2 and 7 points, respectively. All subjects tolerated the full 20 minutes within 2 sessions. Subject 1 walked independently by session 13. Subject 3 was cruising independently by session 14. All caregivers reported the intervention was valuable.
Conclusion: In clinic treadmill training is a feasible intervention for children with DS to reduce delayed walking onset. Continued research is needed to determine the efficacy of treadmill training in a community setting. This method of treadmill training is easier to administer, more cost effective, and less time intensive.
University of Puget Sound
Clark, Taylor SPT; Craig, Nicole SPT; Westin, Katie SPT; Zuniga-Morales, Laura SPT; and Looper, Julia PT, PhD, "Feasibility of Twice a Week in-Clinic Treadmill Intervention in Infants with Down Syndrome" (2020). Physical Therapy Research Symposium. 61.