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Down Syndrome Abstract
of the Month: June 2002

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Promoting balance and jumping skills in children with Down syndrome

Wang WY, Ju YH.
Percept Mot Skills 2002 Apr;94(2):443-8

School of Rehabilitation Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan, ROC.

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the changes in balance and qualitative and quantitative jumping performances by 20 children with Down syndrome (3 to 6 years) on jumping lessons. 30 typical children ages 3 to 6 years were recruited as a comparison group. Before the jumping lesson, a pretest was given subjects for balance and jumping skill measures based on the Motor Proficiency and Motor Skill Inventory, respectively. Subjects with Down syndrome received 3 sessions on jumping per week for 6 weeks but not the typical children. Then, a posttest was administered to all subjects. Analysis of covariance showed the pre- and posttest differences on scores for floor walk, beam walk, and horizontal and vertical jumping by subjects with Down syndrome were significantly greater than those for the typical children.

My comments:

The abstract doesn't provide enough insight into the motivation behind this study. There is a controversy as to whether delayed motor skills in children with DS are due to the ligamentous laxity and hypotonia or defects in balance control mechanisms and deficiencies in muscular force. The authors chose jumping as this activity requires muscular force in the legs and balance control. The challenge was whether motor skills can be improved by practicing physical activities requiring muscular force and balance.

Twenty children with DS were given jumping lessons derived from a specific motor development curriculum called "Body Skills" (by Judy Werder and Robert Bruininks, 1988). However, we are not given any particulars to these lessons other than they included both vertical and horizontal jumping, and 30 minutes of warm-up exercises preceded a 30 minute jumping lesson. After nine total hours of lessons, the children had improved balance and "a more efficient jumping strategy."

Conclusion: motor skills in DS are related to training received, not developmental growth. Physical therapy can make a difference.


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