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Our Fit in the World

Fetters, Linda

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Pediatric Physical Therapy: Fall 2016 - Volume 28 - Issue 3 - p 261
doi: 10.1097/PEP.0000000000000294
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The importance of the “fit” between the mover and the environment has been described and investigated by Eleanor Gibson through the Perception-Action theory.1,2 Gibson used the concept of affordance for movement in describing the elegant relationship between the child and the context for movement. Affordances include characteristics of the mover but always in relation to the characteristics of the task, which is a part of the environment. Three studies in this issue explore the affordances for movement for infants and children. The study by Jiang and colleagues describes affordances between infant leg movements and different contexts: supine, in a jungle gym, or in a car seat. They provide evidence for the constraints on leg action when infants are in a car seat in comparison to the other conditions. This is important information in cultures similar to that of the United States, where infants spend increasing amounts of time seated in equipment. Babik and colleagues explore the enhancement of movement context by providing an exoskeleton to a child with arthrogryposis. This equipment alters the affordance by providing graded scaffolding for movement success. And in a final example of the concept of affordance, Mattern-Baxter introduces groups as environmental context to deliver treadmill exercise. Studies of movers within the contexts for movement increase our understanding of the relational characteristics of successful actions.

Chiarello and colleagues have made a significant contribution to our understanding of physical therapy services in the schools and what children can achieve. They are to be congratulated for this ambitious study and important insights.

Of special note is the contribution of to the Clinical Bottom Line commentary from Ryan Draper on “Supported Standing in Boys With Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.” Ryan shares his personal experience with physical therapy and, specifically, with supported standing. Michael Fink is the parent of a child with arthrogryposis and also a physical therapist. He contributes his insights to the Clinical Bottom Line commentary on “Feasibility and Effectiveness of a Novel Exoskeleton for an Infant With Arm Movement Impairments.” These personal insights add critical relevance to our research and clinical practice.

At the time of publishing this issue, I will have completed a 3-month Fulbright Scholarship in Sydney, Australia, working with the team at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute. Iona Novak, Cathy Morgan, and team with children and families are an inspiration! I am pleased to announce that Dr. Novak has joined our editorial team as an Associate Editor. Good on ya' Dr. Novak!

Linda Fetters
Sydney, Australia


1. Gibson EJ. Exploratory behavior in the development of perceiving acting and the acquiring of knowledge. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 1988;39:1–41.
2. Gibson EJ. An ecological psycologist's prolegomena for perceptual development: A functional approach. In: Goldring Z-GC-RZ-, ed. Evolving explanations of development: Ecological approaches to organism-environment systems. Washington D.C.: APA; 1997:23–45.
© 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. and Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy of the American Physical Therapy Association