The purpose of this study was to provide insight into the developmental outcomes of early orthosis use in combination with treadmill training in infants with DS compared with treadmill training alone. DESIGN: This study was a randomized controlled trial. Seventeen infants with DS entered the study when they could pull themselves to a standing position. They were randomly assigned to either a control group (which received treadmill training) or an experimental group (which received treadmill training and orthoses). During monthly visits to the infants’ homes, 3 minutes of treadmill stepping was recorded and each child’s motor development skills were tested. The treadmill training ended once the child took 3 independent steps. One month following walking onset, developmental tests were readministered. The Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM) was used to test motor skill development. The average (SD) time in the study was 268 (88) days for the control group and 206 (109) days for the experimental group. All infants showed significantly increased GMFM scores over time. At 1 month of walking experience, the control group had higher GMFM scores than the experimental group, with higher standing and walking, running, and jumping subscale scores.
Orthoses may have a detrimental effect on overall gross motor skill development.
Looper J, Ulrich DA. Effect of treadmill training and supramalleolar orthosis use on motor skill development in infants with Down syndrome: a randomized clinical trial. Phys Ther. 2010 Mar;90(3):382-90