Child Developmental Coordination Disorder–Its Causes and Treatment

Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is when children don’t develop normally using voluntary muscles.
DCD has also been called ”clumsy child syndrome”,  a disorder of motor function, and even congenital maladroitness. We notice the disorder when the child doesn’t seem to be walking properly or dressing himself.
Although these children often develop normally in all other ways they have difficulty with both large and small muscles. This may involve closing buttons, forming letters when they write or throwing or catching balls.  This can cause social problems even on the playground as they will be considered different by their peers. They may also feel discouraged from progressing even though they have normal intelligence.
Symptoms vary from child to child. In some it could be an inability to tie shoe laces and in another it could be improperly forming printed letters or catching a ball. The disorder manifests itself in relation to the child’s age and IQ. Generally there are 5 types of symptoms.
–an at-rest muscle tone that is below normal
–general unsteadiness and slight shaking
–inability to produce written symbols
–inability to move smoothly because of problems putting together the subunits of the whole movement
–muscle tone that is consistently above normal
Some children may have more than one symptom.
The causes of DCD are unknown however there are some theories given. These include poor prenatal nutrition, low birth weight or prematurity. There is no hard evidence for these reasons, though.
Estimates show that perhaps 6% of children between 5 and 11 have DCD and that males may be more diagnosed although males and females each probably have the disorder equally. There seems to be a link between DCD and speech language disorders although it isn’t known why.
Usually parents or teachers are the first to notice the disorder because the child is having learning problems, falling frequently or lagging behind peers. A doctor’s examination is usually advised to rule out any neurological problem or a psychiatrist may be consulted to eliminate a learning disability.
Since different symptoms occur in different children it is imperative to determine that the child is abnormally ”clumsy” in comparison to his peers of a similar age and intelligence level. There has to be a negative consequence to the child’s clumsiness in order to have a diagnosis of DCD. These consequences would be those that affect his day to day progress in school, play or other necessary activities. The correct diagnosis needs to be made to determine that it is not connected with muscular dystrophy or retardation. Some people feel that there has to be a minimum IQ of 70 to label it DCD.
There have been no known treatments until now that work for all cases of DCD. Working with an occupational therapist, placing the child in a special education class in order to improve motor coordination and to improve academic problems or in a physical education class to improve motor skills may be very helpful.
Individual therapy can be very important to the child that has DCD as to neglect the problem can cause additional issues involving social relationships and low self esteem.
No one knows how to prevent developmental coordination disorder, although some have suggested a healthy diet during pregnancy and regular prenatal care.
Recently there has been a development in physical therapy solutions that can help a child from the age of 5 and up to overcome symptoms of DCD. Called the TUTOR system these products provide an intensive exercise program that is both challenging and enjoyable to use. The HANDTUTOR, and ARMTUTOR specifically can provide a way to strengthen the muscles needed to learn better coordination.
The newly developed HANDTUTOR and its sister devices (ARMTUTOR, LEGTUTOR, 3DTUTOR) have become a key system in neuromuscular rehabilitation and physical therapy for interactive rehabilitation exercise. These innovative devices implement an impairment based program with augmented feedback and encourage motor learning through intensive active exercises. These exercises are challenging and motivating and allow for repetitive training tailored to the patient’s performance. This training is customized by the occupational and physical therapist to ensure that the patient stays motivated to do intensive repetitive manual therapy and exercise practice.
 The HandTutor, LegTutor, ArmTutor and 3DTutor is now  part of the rehabilitation program of leading U.S. and foreign hospitals with the Tutors being used in clinics and in patients homes through telerehabilitation. Fully certified by the FDA and CE more information is available at WWW.MEDITOUCH.CO.IL


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