RESEARCH REPORTS: CLINICAL BOTTOM LINE
“How could I apply this information?”
Down syndrome (DS) is characterized by musculoskeletal impairments that typically lead to decreased scores on the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM). Five of 6 children with DS who participated in a dance class under supervision of physical therapists improved scores on dimensions D and E of the GMFM. The authors emphasized that the gross motor benefits were greatest in the younger participants, which could have been due to many age-specific factors.
Parent Comment: The article mentioned that a secondary gain or benefit from the dance class was increased social interaction. This likely influenced the improvement of motor skills as well. Developing a relationship with the instructor increases motivation to please the instructor and peers that they come to know. Wanting to be part of the group probably helped them perform better.
“What should I be mindful about when applying this information?”
This pilot study had a small sample size. One to 2 physical therapists were present to provide physical assistance, as well as behavioral management in class. The outcomes may or may not have been the same if the children were in a class without a physical therapist present. Children with DS may benefit from any community class that is available and increases their activity level.
Parent Comment: Cognitive function was not accounted for, which varies greatly in those with DS. Lower-functioning participants may take more time to feel comfortable enough to put forth effort and take more time to learn skills. Younger children may have had more opportunities for increasing motor skill development at school and home throughout the 20 weeks. These opportunities seem to decrease with increasing age. Younger children may have a lower body mass index, which would help them learn skills and move easier. Maybe, having such different ages in the study makes it less reliable. My daughter does better in a dance class with peers who encourage her.
Julie Bouck, PT, MPT
Primary Children's Hospital
Salt Lake City, Utah
Pam Scott, MEd
Mother of a child with Down syndrome