Early spontaneous leg movements in infants born with and without myelomeningocele

Pediatr Phys Ther. Summer 2008;20(2):137-45. doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e3181720248.


Purpose: To compare quantity and quality of spontaneous leg movements during early infancy in babies with myelomeningocele (MMC) and babies with typical development (TD).

Methods: Nine infants with MMC and 12 with TD moved spontaneously while supine for 5 minutes at ages 1, 3, and 6 months. We used a 6-camera system to monitor leg movements. Resultant leg displacement and velocity were used to determine movement frequency and, for each movement, duration, distance, peak velocity, jerk, and number of acceleration peaks.

Results: Movements of infants with MMC were shorter in duration with fewer acceleration peaks than their peers. Asymmetrical interlimb frequencies in infants with TD resulted in one leg moving more than the other, which was similar to the lower symmetrical interlimb frequencies of infants with MMC.

Conclusions: Infants with MMC show depressed movement activity. Further research is needed to determine if therapy can facilitate spontaneous activity and leg control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kinesiology, Applied
  • Leg / growth & development
  • Leg / physiopathology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Meningomyelocele / complications
  • Meningomyelocele / physiopathology*
  • Motor Activity
  • Movement Disorders / etiology*
  • Movement*
  • Time Factors