Julia Looper, PT, PhD
Background: Physical development delays can severely limit a child’s ability to explore and learn about their environment. Evidence supports that this exploration promotes a child’s development in cognition, language acquisition, social skills, and further physical skills. Thus, interventions that target and improve early mobility can be highly valuable to a child’s life. Treadmill training in infants with developmental delays has shown to be an effective intervention in moving infants toward earlier independent walking and improved gross motor function.
Purpose: This study aims to explore the potential benefits of an established treadmill training program in infants with varying degrees of motor impairments.
Materials/Methods: Two infants with motor delays from early intervention agencies were recruited for this study. The eligible participants engaged in a 12-week treadmill program, walking twice a week for 20 minutes with trunk support provided by a caregiver. Outcome measures of GMFM raw scores and video recordings were collected.
Results: Both individuals, regardless of the severity of impairments, increased GMFM scores in the dimensions of standing and walking. Both infants’ total steps, steps per minute, and steps per bout improved by midterm. Stepping metrics decreased for the infant with minor impairments by post-test while stepping metrics continued to improve for the infant with more severe impairments.
Conclusions: Treadmill training was an effective intervention for improving gross motor function and walking ability in both infants. With minor impairments from developmental delays, infants may stop finding treadmill activity engaging enough for participation once they gain mastery over the skill.
University of Puget Sound
Nguyen, Eric SPT and Gerchak, Nicolle SPT, "Effects of Treadmill Interventions on Infants with Developmental Delays Presenting with Mild and Severe Impairments: A Case Series" (2022). Physical Therapy Research Symposium. 70.