Purpose: To determine the effect of enhanced sensory input on the step frequency of infants with myelomeningocele (MMC) when supported on a motorized treadmill.
Methods: Twenty-seven infants aged 2 to 10 months with MMC lesions at, or caudal to, L1 participated. We supported infants upright on the treadmill for 2 sets of 6 trials, each 30 seconds long. Enhanced sensory inputs within each set were presented in random order and included baseline, visual flow, unloading, weights, Velcro, and friction.
Results: Overall friction and visual flow significantly increased step rate, particularly for the older subjects. Friction and Velcro increased stance-phase duration. Enhanced sensory input had minimal effect on leg activity when infants were not stepping.
Conclusions: Increased friction via Dycem and enhancing visual flow via a checkerboard pattern on the treadmill belt appear to be more effective than the traditional smooth black belt surface for eliciting stepping patterns in infants with MMC.