Previous studies of Tai Chi or mindfulness-based interventions in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have relied on self- or parent-reported outcome measures; however, there is a critical need for the validation of objective biomarkers of treatment. Therefore, we implemented a mindful movement intervention for children with ADHD, hypothesizing that an ADHD-relevant motor control measure could serve as a predictive biomarker of treatment-related improvement.
Thirty-four participants were included, 8 to 12 year olds diagnosed with DSM-5 ADHD. Participants engaged in the mindful movement treatment, an 8-week program with 2 classes a week for 60 minutes. At pre- and post-treatment, ADHD symptoms and associated impairment and motor control via the Physical and Neurological Examination for Subtle Signs (PANESS) were assessed.
The results showed a significant reduction for PANESS Gaits and Station (p ≤ 0.001), total overflow (p = 0.009), and total score (p = 0.001) after treatment, with the largest effect for Gaits and Stations. The results also showed a significant reduction in symptoms of inattention (p ≤ 0.001), hyperactivity/impulsivity (p ≤ 0.001), oppositional defiant disorder (p = 0.001), and executive dysfunction (p ≤ 0.001). There were significant positive correlations between change in PANESS Gaits and Stations and change in both inattentive (p = 0.02) and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms (p = 0.02). There was also a significant positive correlation between change in the PANESS total score and change in inattentive (p = 0.007) and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms (p = 0.042). The change in the PANESS total score (β = 0.295, p = 0.002) predicted post-treatment ADHD severity above the change in inattentive or hyperactive/impulsive symptoms.
The results suggest the effectiveness of a mindful movement treatment on ADHD symptoms and suggest the PANESS as a candidate motor biomarker for future mindful movement trials.
Clinical Trial Registration:
ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02234557, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02234557.