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Commentary on “Physical Activity and Motor Function in Children and Adolescents With Neuromuscular Disorders”

King, Brett Erin PT, DPT, MPT; DeMuth, Sharon PT, DPT, MS

Author Information
doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e3182a66acc

“How could I apply this information?”

This study provides initial information regarding levels of fitness for children with neuromuscular disorders (NMDs). Because of the small sample size and the variety of diagnoses, it is difficult to apply this information to groups with specific NMDs. However, physical therapists working within schools might determine whether the children they treat with NMDs are actively participating in physical education (PE). Each child may need specific modifications or assistance to support participation in PE along with children who are developing typically. This research supports that establishing a baseline level of fitness for each child would assist the therapist in setting appropriate goals for successful participation in PE. However, generalizing the use of these measures (Six-Minute Walk Test [6MWT], Hammersmith Motor Ability Scale, and SenseWear Armband) to provide a baseline fitness assessment in children with NMDs may not be appropriate for all without studying a larger sample drawn from varied locations as suggested by the authors.

“What should I be mindful about in applying this information?”

The 6MWT should be interpreted with caution in children with chronic conditions.1 The 6MWT may not be the best clinical measure for tracking fitness levels in children with NMDs until further studies provide more information on modifying test administration procedures and the test's capacity to measure significant and clinically meaningful changes. Fourteen of the 17 children needed assistance to complete the Personal and Environment Associations with Children's Health (PEACH) survey. Other surveys should be considered that might be easier for independent completion.

Brett Erin King, PT, DPT, MPT

Tustin Unified School District

Tustin, California

Sharon DeMuth, PT, DPT, MS

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California


1. Bartels B, de Groot JF, Terwee CB. The Six-Minute Walk Test in chronic pediatric conditions: a systematic review of measurement properties. Phys Ther. 2013;93(4):529–541.
© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins and the Section on Pediatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association.