Impact of enhanced sensory input on treadmill step frequency: infants born with myelomeningocele

Pediatr Phys Ther. 2011 Spring;23(1):42-52. doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e318206eefa.


Purpose: To determine the effect of enhanced sensory input on the step frequency of infants with myelomeningocele (MMC) when supported on a motorized treadmill.

Methods: Twenty-seven infants aged 2 to 10 months with MMC lesions at, or caudal to, L1 participated. We supported infants upright on the treadmill for 2 sets of 6 trials, each 30 seconds long. Enhanced sensory inputs within each set were presented in random order and included baseline, visual flow, unloading, weights, Velcro, and friction.

Results: Overall friction and visual flow significantly increased step rate, particularly for the older subjects. Friction and Velcro increased stance-phase duration. Enhanced sensory input had minimal effect on leg activity when infants were not stepping.

Conclusions: : Increased friction via Dycem and enhancing visual flow via a checkerboard pattern on the treadmill belt appear to be more effective than the traditional smooth black belt surface for eliciting stepping patterns in infants with MMC.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise Test*
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Meningomyelocele / rehabilitation*
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Pediatrics
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Videotape Recording
  • Walking / physiology*