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Understanding heterogeneity of balance control in children with developmental coordination disorder and its impact on motor performance: a synergistic approach using brain imaging, neuromechanics and functional assessments.

Worldwide, developmental coordination disorder (DCD) accounts for 5-6% of the school-aged children showing a motor delay with an onset early in childhood that often persists in adolescence. Poor balance control is the most significant motor problem occurring in 73-87% of the cases of children with DCD. These balance deficits severely affect everyday functioning but underlying control mechanisms are still poorly understood. Therefore, the main aim of this project is understanding the heterogeneity of DCD by studying balance control, its impact on motor performance and its control mechanisms. Based on functional performance and neuroimaging data it is hypothesized that both performance and motor control of children with DCD can be situated on the continuum of balance performance between children with cerebral palsy (CP) and their typically developing (TD) peers. As such a cross-sectional case-control study will be performed comparing balance performance, motor performance, cortical brain activity and muscular activation patterns in children with DCD to children with CP and their TD peers. This synergistic approach of combining functional assessments with brain imaging and neuromechanical analysis will provide a major step forward in unravelling the interplay between the control system (brain and the rest of the nervous system) and the effector system (musculoskeletal system) when specific balance tasks are performed. The expected outcomes of this project are new balance profiles in children with DCD as well as a better understanding of the relation between balance and motor performance. These profiles can add insights in the heterogeneity of DCD and the debate whether DCD represents pathological development or a delayed development, which would be a scientific breakthrough. Furthermore, the novelty of this study lies in the synergistic approach of combining functional assessments with brain imaging and neuromechanical analysis. This approach can provide groundbreaking insights into control mechanisms of balance and, when succesful, might serve as a gold standard for future research. Ultimately, the insights obtained in this project could enhance adequate physiotherapeutic treatment planning, improve motor potential and result in better execution of everyday activities for children with DCD.
Date:1 Sep 2020 →  Today
Disciplines:Pediatrics, Biomechanics, Physiotherapy