, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 821-828
Date: 03 Jul 2013

Preschool Motor Skills Following Physical and Occupational Therapy Services Among Non-Disabled Very Low Birth Weight Children

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Children born very low birth weight (VLBW) are at an increased risk of delayed development of motor skills. Physical and occupational therapy services may reduce this risk. Among VLBW children, we evaluated whether receipt of physical or occupational therapy services between 9 months and 2 years of age is associated with improved preschool age motor ability. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort we estimated the association between receipt of therapy and the following preschool motor milestones: skipping eight consecutive steps, hopping five times, standing on one leg for 10 seconds, walking backwards six steps on a line, and jumping distance. We used propensity score methods to adjust for differences in baseline characteristics between children who did and did not receive physical or occupational therapy, since children receiving therapy may be at higher risk of impairment. We applied propensity score weights and modeled the estimated effect of therapy on the distance that the child jumped using linear regression. We modeled all other end points using logistic regression. Treated VLBW children were 1.70 times as likely to skip eight steps (RR 1.70, 95 % CI 0.84, 3.44) compared to the untreated group and 30 % more likely to walk six steps backwards (RR 1.30, 95 % CI 0.63, 2.71), although these differences were not statistically significant. We found little effect of therapy on other endpoints. Providing therapy to VLBW children during early childhood may improve select preschool motor skills involving complex motor planning.