Infants with spina bifida: immediate responses to contextual and manual sensory augmentation during treadmill stepping

Pediatr Phys Ther. 2013 Spring;25(1):36-45. doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e31827a7533.


Purpose: This study examined the effect of combined sensory enhancements and manual assistance on the immediate motor responsiveness of infants with spina bifida during treadmill trials.

Methods: Six infants with spina bifida, aged 4 to 9.5 months, with lesion levels ranging from L4 to S3 were tested in each of 3 randomly ordered sets of enhanced sensory conditions across 3 weekly visits to the laboratory. Sensory enhancements included visual flow, unloading, load, and friction, presented in single and combined applications, as well as a set of trials with manual assistance for stepping at 2 treadmill belt speeds. Dependent variables included step frequencies and overall infant activity.

Results: Friction+load was the most salient of the contextual sensory enhancements. Manual assistance at the slower speed was also effective at increasing infant stepping.

Conclusions: Sensory enhancements that increase stance excursion and vertical clearance during swing need further study.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Exercise Test*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Spinal Dysraphism / physiopathology*
  • Spinal Dysraphism / rehabilitation*
  • Walking*