Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Kinesiologists Design Tiny Treadmill to Help Balance Baby Steps in Down Syndrome Infants

    Kinesiologsts developed a tiny treadmill to help infants with Down syndrome learn to balance themselves earlier. Typically, these children learn how to walk at 24 to 28 months, later than the 12 months for those without Down syndrome. The treadmill exercise, used about 8 minutes a day, helps to reinforce the underlying pattern of coordination in the legs. This repetition helps build core muscles and support the drive to stand up. After the babies take eight to 10 steps without help, they are outfitted with light reflecting markers. The information from these markers is recorded on cameras, revealing gait, speed and width of their steps. Researchers show walking is occurring six months sooner with the treadmill.

    Down syndrome affects one in every 800 babies. It's a genetic condition that causes delays in intellectual and physical development. Researchers have now developed a treadmill for Down syndrome babies to help them walk earlier than ever before.

    The treadmill training helps babies with Down learn to balance earlier. Signe Newcomb helps her daughter Lauren use the treadmill at home for eight minutes every day. "She likes to stand more and is building her core muscle strength," Newcomb said.

    “Basically, we know how long their step is, how wide they walk and how fast they walk," Rosa Angulobarroso, a research scientist at the University of Michigan, said.

    Studies show the babies learn to walk six months earlier than kids without treadmill training, and the quality of their walking is much better. It doesn't sound like much, but it can mean a world of difference.

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