It was the aim of this study to examine the motor and cognitive development of infants with congenital idiopathic clubfoot, compared with typically developing infants. We repeatedly tested the gross motor, fine motor, and cognitive abilities of 12 infants with clubfoot and 12 typically developing infants at the ages of 4, 6, 9, and 12 months with the Bayley-III Scales. All infants with clubfoot were treated with the Ponseti method, which led to a restriction of normal movements of the lower extremities in the first months of life. They showed a great delay in gross motor development but not in fine motor or cognitive development. However, in the clubfoot group, we found some slight deficits in specific cognitive tasks, including problem solving and spatial memory. In addition, our results revealed significant correlations between gross and fine motor performance and cognitive performance in the control group but only between fine motor and cognitive performance in infants with clubfoot, indicating that both, fine and gross motor skills, are related to cognitive processes and can mutually replace each other to a certain degree. Further research is needed to gain a deeper understanding of clubfoot infants’ development and to clarify the need for mobility training.
Dillmann and Schwarzer are with the Dept. of Developmental Psychology, Justus Liebig Universität Giessen, Giessen, Germany. Peterlein is with the Center for Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery, Universitätsklinikum Giessen und Marburg–Standort Marburg, Marburg, Germany.