Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Research Study, cont.

Behind a bit?

Ummm, yeah.

You might remember that, back in March, Piper started in a research study that was to analyze the effects of balance training in kids with Down syndrome.  She had two pre-sessions, five weekly sessions on the balance platform, and two post-tests. 

All this culminated the weekend after Addy was born.  If you’re counting, that was eight-and-a-half weeks ago, but I’m not admitting to that.

A few weeks ago, I got a packet in the mail with a thank you note (and a gift card!) and a summary from the study.  At the pre-sessions, the third session, and at the two post-sessions, they completed the Gross Motor Function Measure test to evaluate, on a point basis, her gross motor skills.  They only scored the two sections on Standing and Walking, Running, Jumping, and Stair Climbing.  Each component was scored on a 0 to 3 scale marking did not initiate, initiates, partially completes, or completes.  So any change in score implies a change in abilities.

I’ll say that, once we got started in the study, I was not convinced that Piper was old enough to participate.  I thought that she was too young to understand the balance board, and that maybe we weren’t going to see any real benefits from it because of her hesitations.  She was in that awkward age of being old enough to know that it wasn’t right but not old enough to understand why.  Frankly, I had considered pulling her out based on her extreme dislike of the board, but things were a little easier each week.  Still, though, I wasn’t sure that this protocol wouldn’t have worked better with older kids.

Until I got the results.

Holy smokes.  This is Piper’s part of the final results documenting her change in score: 

  3 days post 30 days post
Standing Ability 9.4 12.0
Walking, etc 6.5 21.8

Okay, so I’ve been able to see a dramatic difference in her confidence over the past few months.  And sure, no matter WHAT we had done over this time, she would have had an increase in score.  However, I don’t think it would have been this dramatic.

The head researcher mentioned several times that maybe this would help her get over some of her over-cautious tendencies. She’s definitely a lot more confident. She’s willing to try things a lot more than she has in the past.  Things like crawling into the infant swing, but we won’t go there… She’ll go up and down a few steps while holding onto the wall all by herself now. She’s running- truly running- since starting this. She’s *this* close to riding her pedal bike and she has taken a few (albeit, a few) jumps with both feet on the trampoline. She’ll climb up the ladder to her slide. Even things like walking while looking at the ceiling (not a real skill, I know, but it takes a lot of balance, right?) She’s definitely a different looking kid these days…




That 21.8 increase?  The average for the rest of the kids was 11.8.  Talk about a jump. 

So, while I was all ready to write a diatribe about how maybe this was better suited for kids who were proficient to start with, I’m eating my words.  I know that this is at least the third trial with this specific theory.  They did it once (maybe twice?) with kids with CP and now twice with kids with Ds.  I don’t know if they’re going to do anything else in the future, but I’d be curious to know.  It’s certainly an intriguing idea, and I do think that it’s done wonders for her ability to move through the post-walking skills. 

I just wish she hadn’t have screamed through the sessions.  I like to think that she was preparing her student helpers for their careers with uncooperative munchkins.

I’m afraid that she may have ensured that some of them stick to the non-pediatric side of things.


  1. That is really neat! I wonder what it would do for little boys who have no caution and not great balance ;)