Recent research assessed the postural control of 90 very preterm (VPT) children (<30 weeks gestation) and 36 full term children (>37 weeks gestation) at four years old. Using a Wii Balance Board, various tasks were assessed including static two-limbed standing with eyes open, eyes closed, eyes open on a foam mat, eyes closed on a foam mat, single leg standing on each limb and a cognitive dual task (involved showing the participants a series of pictures that appeared on screen at 2-second intervals). Functional performance was assessed during dynamic jumping and hopping tasks using the outcome measure of flight time, with shorter time indicating worse performance.
The results indicated the following: 1
1. VPT children had impaired static and dynamic balance, with increased postural sway under all conditions.
2. VPT children had reduced flight times compared with children born at term.
3. When adjustments were made for body weight the only group differences in postural control were in the cognitive dual task and flight times (jumping and left leg hopping).
The researchers concluded that: "VPT children demonstrated reduced postural control at 4 years of age compared with term-born children when presented with a cognitive dual task. They also performed worse during jumping and hopping tasks".
Reference: Lorefice, L. E., Galea, M. P., Clark, R. A., Doyle, L. W., Anderson, P. J. and Spittle, A. J. (2014), Postural control at 4 years in very preterm children compared with term-born peers. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.12550
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