25 Sep, 2015

Helping babies with neuromuscular disorders crawl and explore the world

Medical Xpress | Eric Peters | 14 September, 2015 

Three years ago in Oklahoma a mother, playing with her 8-month-old twin daughters, placed a toy on the ground. One of the sisters pulled herself to the toy while the other focused on it and moved her arms and legs, but got nowhere.The situation wasn’t new to the mother. She already was aware of the reason one of her daughters was unable to crawl: She had cerebral palsy.

Abstract: In many cases, children with cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular disorders are challenged by lack of coordination or lack of strength, preventing them from executing a coordinated crawling motion.

Overcoming this obstacle is important because there is more happening in a crawling baby’s brain than some might think. When children first begin to scoot, pull, slide and tug themselves from one curiosity to the next, they are discovering and grasping for knowledge, thus driving and promoting very critical cognitive and intellectual development during this early expression of inquisitiveness.

“Kids who don’t explore and interact with their environments—who don’t go out and taste the objects and do all of the things that kids do—can have delayed cognitive development,” said Peter Pidcoe, D.P.T., Ph.D., an associate professor and assistant chair in the Department of Physical Therapy, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Allied Health Professions. “There are age-critical benchmarks that need to be met in order to develop normally.”