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Effects of Physical Therapy in Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder

1 May 2008


Overall Clinical Bottom Line: Physical therapy (PT) interventions based on either deficit oriented approaches or functional skill approaches, compared to no intervention, may be beneficial in improving motor function in children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD). However, there were several threats to each study’s internal validity as demonstrated by overall low PEDro scores following the synthesis of ten studies. Due to the lack of evidence that clearly supports one treatment technique for children with DCD, therapists must rely on clinical judgment to best address the needs of these children. Treatments need to be directed at multiple levels of functioning from body/structure impairment through life participation, as a single treatment technique will not apply to the heterogeneous population of children with this diagnosis.

Clinical Scenario: A five year old boy was referred to an outpatient pediatric physical therapy clinic for treatment of coordination deficits, strength deficits, low tone, decreased body awareness and overall clumsiness. His parents were concerned because he appeared to not be achieving the same motor skills as his peers, had difficulty performing some activities of daily living, and had concerns about his safety. He had no medical or neurological complications or diagnoses and appeared to have age appropriate intellectual abilities. Based on this case presentation, we became interested in the assessment of developmental coordination disorder (DCD) and appropriate interventions regarding this condition


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