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Pediatric Physical Therapy:
Section Information: Abstracts of Poster and Platform Presentations for the 2004 Combined Sections Meeting: Poster Presentations

RATES OF LEARNING A COMPLEX MOTOR SKILL USING A NOVEL PROTOCOL IN CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL COORDINATION DISORDER.

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RATES OF LEARNING A COMPLEX MOTOR SKILL USING A NOVEL PROTOCOL IN CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL COORDINATION DISORDER.

R.T. Harbourne, H. Reelfs, Munroe-Meyer, Physical Therapy, Univ. of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE.

PURPOSE/HYPOTHESIS: The purpose of this study was to determine whether a new protocol for teaching the complex skill of bike riding would be successful for children with DCD, and whether these children would have varying rates of learning the skill.

NUMBER OF SUBJECTS: 4 subjects, 2 males and 2 females, ranging in age from 10 to 14. All subjects had a history of difficulty learning motor tasks, and all had tried to learn bicycle riding in the past with no success.

MATERIALS/METHODS: A program to break down the task of riding a bike was developed, with approximately 35 sub-skills nested within the overall task of bike riding. Subjects attended 1 hour group sessions weekly, which were held in a large open gym area. Each session consisted of practice on several of the sub-tasks, as well as specific feedback to the children on force, speed and direction parameters of movement required to accomplish the given sub-task. Sub-tasks were charted as a percent of the overall number of tasks to determine progress. Percent of task achievement was charted against number of practice sessions to describe the rate of progress for each subject. Overall rate of learning was calculated by dividing the percent of skill acquired during training by the number of sessions needed to accomplish 100% of the sub-skills.

RESULTS: All subjects were successful in learning the task of riding a bike independently, achieving 100% of the sub-skills. The average rate of learning varied between subjects, with a low of 18% per session and a high of 54%. For comparison, one normal 5 year old subject was engaged in the program and learned at the rate of 54% per session. CONCLUSIONS: Children with DCD who have been unable to learn to ride a bike in a normal setting were able to learn the skill using a novel protocol which breaks down the skill of bike riding into 35 sub-skills. The rate of learning the skill was variable in this small group, which is supported by literature describing the variability of performance in children with DCD.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Physical therapists should be engaged in teaching children with DCD complex skills such as bike riding. Therapists can provide unique contributions to the learning of complex tasks such as breaking down the skill into manageable sub-skills, and providing information to the learner regarding strategies of movement that would lead to success.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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