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The hidden disorder: Unique treatment proposed for children's neurological disorder
Date:11/25/2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- An Indiana University study in the Journal of Child Neurology proposes an innovative treatment for developmental coordination disorder, a potentially debilitating neurological disorder in which the development of a child's fine or gross motor skills, or both, is impaired.

DCD strikes about one in 20 children, predominantly boys, and frequently occurs alongside ADHD, autism spectrum disorders and other better known conditions. Like ADHD, DCD has broad academic, social and emotional impact. It can severely affect reading, spelling and handwriting abilities; and insofar as children with DCD both struggle with and avoid physical activity, it can also lead to problems with self-esteem, obesity and injury.

Severity of the disorder varies, and as the researchers explain, it is sometimes called the "hidden disorder" because of the way those with milder cases develop coping strategies that conceal the disorder, such as using computers to avoid handwriting tasks, and wearing shirts without buttons, or shoes without laces. But children with DCD have been generally thought unable to learn or improve their motor skills.

"The results of this study were remarkable," said lead author Geoffrey Bingham, professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences. "After training the children over a five- to six-week period, one day a week for 20 minutes at a time, the differences between children with DCD and typically developing children were all but obliterated."

Key to the training was a unique technology: a three-dimensional virtual reality device, the PHANTOM Omni from Sensable Technologies, developed for the visualization of knots by topologists, who study geometric forms in space. Holding a stylus attached to a robot, participants in the study developed their fine motor skills by playing a game in which they traced a three-dimensional virtual path in the air,
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Contact: Liz Rosdeitcher
rosdeitc@indiana.edu
812-855-4507
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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