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Beverly D. Ulrich

Advances in medical technology, perinatal care, and neonatal intensive care have greatly increased the rate of survival for neonates born with a variety of medical problems and very low birth weights. The majority survive relatively sequelae free, although evidence still indicates that they remain at higher than normal risk for physical, mental, and social development. As the number of medical complications increases and birthweight decreases, the expectations for normal development become less promising. The kinds of stimulation the early postnatal environment provides have been identified as important factors in the infant’s growth and development. The effects of providing patterned stimulation to infants in the neonatal intensive care unit have been investigated by many. Despite difficulties in comparing studies due to the variability of subjects used, and type, intensity, and duration of treatment, the overwhelming evidence indicates beneficial effects.

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Ryota Nishiyori and Beverly D. Ulrich

Our goal for this paper is to address changes in motor patterns that occur early in life. To do this, we begin by sharing first a brief set of exemplar patterns of movement that emerge prenatally and during the first year postnatally. We couch these descriptions in the hypotheses proposed to explain what has been observed, and emphasize, as well, the context in which they appear. We follow with some experimental studies developmental scientists have used to test these explanations. Subsequently, we address the brain-behavior collaboration that unfolds and supports skill acquisition across early development. We provide data to show that recent advances in brain-imaging technology enable researchers to monitor cortical activity as infants explore and learn functional skills in real time and over developmental time. This opens a new frontier to the scientific study of the early development of neuromotor control and can enhance both our basic science knowledge and our efforts to optimize positive clinical outcomes.

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Ugo H. Buzzi and Beverly D. Ulrich

The purpose of this study was to examine the dynamic stability of two groups of children with different dynamic resources in changing contexts. The stability of the lower extremity segments of preadolescent children (8–10 years old) with and without Down syndrome (DS) was evaluated as children walked on a motorized treadmill at varying speeds. Tools from nonlinear dynamics, maximum Lyapunov exponent, and approximate entropy were used to assess the behavioral stability of segmental angular displacements of the thigh, shank, and foot. Our results suggest that children with DS show decreased dynamic stability during walking in all segments and that this might be a consequence of inherently different subsystem constraints between these groups. Differences between groups also varied, though not uniformly, with speed, suggesting that inherent differences could further constrain the behavioral response to changing task demands.

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Jennifer K. Sansom and Beverly D. Ulrich

Due to increased metabolic demands during walking, ∼50% of children with myelomeningocele transition to wheelchair use during adolescence/early adulthood. The purpose of our pilot study involving children with myelomeningocele was to determine: (a) energy expenditure needs during acute use of common assistive devices and (b) if walking poles are a feasible assistive device. Oxygen uptake was recorded for eight (5–12 years old) children in four conditions: independent, walker, crutches, and poles. Acute pole use did not significantly differ from independent walking net energy consumption or cost. Participants consumed more energy while walking with the walker than independently. Our pilot results suggest that (a) acute use of common assistive devices while walking increases energy consumption and cost versus independent and (b) poles are feasible assistive devices, resulting in slightly increased energy requirements. Poles may have provided “just enough” support with minimal change in energy requirements for our participants and, with practice, may enable children with myelomeningocele to remain community ambulators.

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Beverly D. Ulrich and Deborah L. Feltz

In this article we present the results of the 2015 review and ranking of U.S. doctoral programs in kinesiology conducted by the National Academy of Kinesiology (NAK) and based on data for the calendar years 2010 through 2014. This is the third consecutive five-year review and represents the only continuous effort to create rankings for the field of kinesiology today. As in previous reviews, this evaluation was built, using objective measures, on a norm-referenced survey of kinesiology doctoral programs in the United States. Of the 77 programs invited to participate, 52 provided complete sets of the required data. The raw data comprised 9 faculty indices contributing 66% of the total score, and 7 doctoral student indices, which made up the remaining 34%. Raw data for individual indices were converted to normative values by first transforming them into z-scores and then converting the z-scores into T-scores, to which weightings were applied. From the total T-scores, two sets of rankings were determined: unadjusted and adjusted to number of faculty members in each program. Rankings based on total T-scores are presented as well as T-scores for individual indices for each program. We also share raw data means and standard deviations for individual variables, organized into subgroups based on total T-scores. Finally, we compare the outcomes of this review with the previous review conducted by the NAK.

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Beth A. Smith, Nick Stergiou, and Beverly D. Ulrich

In previous studies we found that preadolescents with Down syndrome (DS) produce higher amounts of variability (Smith et al., 2007) and larger Lyapunov exponent (LyE) values (indicating more instability) during walking than their peers with typical development (TD) (Buzzi & Ulrich, 2004). Here we use nonlinear methods to examine the patterns that characterize gait variability as it emerges, in toddlers with TD and with DS, rather than after years of practice. We calculated Lyapunov exponent (LyE) values to assess stability of leg trajectories. We also tested the use of 3 algorithms for surrogation analysis to investigate mathematical periodicity of toddlers’ strides. Results show that toddlers’ LyE values were not different between groups or with practice and strides of both groups become more periodic with practice. The underlying control strategies are not different between groups at this point in developmental time, although control strategies do diverge between the groups by preadolescence.

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Rosa M. Angulo-Kinzler, Beverly Ulrich, and Esther Thelen

In this study we used a biofeedback system to evaluate the joint movements of 3-month-old infants in real-time. The computer was set to discriminate a specific leg position as the motor task infants had to discover to receive the reinforcement from a mobile. Two groups of infants were given two different tasks: (1) to cross 85° knee flexion in the flexion group, and (2) to cross 35° knee extension in extension group. The results from this experiment suggest that infants in both groups learned the task; however, they used different motor solutions. Infants in the flexion group demonstrated two distinctly different motor solutions to make the mobile move. One was movement-based and was characterized by an increase in kicking frequency, while the other was posture-based. In contrast, most infants in the extension group only used the movement-based solution to gain the reinforcements. Controlling the knee at the 35° extension positions seems to be more difficult than at the 85° flexion positions for 3-month-old infants. These results indicate that infants are capable of discovering narrowly defined leg motor solutions and that, depending on their individual characteristics and the task demands, they select different motor solutions.