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Motor Development of Infants Subject to Maternal Drug Use: Current Evidence and Future Research Strategies

Bryant J. Cratty

Literature alludes to tremulousness, hypertonicity, and hypotonicity as well as other signs of atypical motor development in infants exposed prenatally to cocaine and other drugs. Some have hypothesized that movement aberrations brought about by exposure to abusive substances during the prenatal period have developmental significance. The pervasive nature of the problem, together with the unique developmental characteristics that present themselves, suggest the need for innovative research and new assessment tools. This paper reviews the available evidence and suggests new research strategies together with innovative evaluative instruments compatible with the characteristics of neonates, infants, and children stressed prenatally with noxious biochemical environments produced by maternal drug use. Neurological implications for the appearance and disappearance of abnormal movement characteristics are also contained in the review.

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Cinematographical Methods to Assess Associated Movements in Children

Emmie Hsu, Steve Bardfield, Bryant J. Cratty, and Alan Garfinkel

This pilot study was conducted to test the usefulness of angle-angle diagrams and phase plane plots obtained through high-speed cinematographical methods for making graded assessments of associated movements in children. Kinematic data at the shoulder, elbow, and ankle joints of normal and motorically awkward children (5-7 years old) were obtained from digitized films of normal and heel walking trials on a motor driven treadmill. A computer program was developed to smooth, calculate, differentiate, and plot data. Angle-angle diagrams depicting simultaneous joint angular displacements of (a) shoulder versus ankle and (b) elbow versus ankle revealed graded differences in decoupling of joint motion, limb excursions, and joint range-of-motion changes between the 5-year-old, 7-year-old awkward, and 7-year-old normal subject. Phase planes of the shoulder, elbow, and ankle joint were obtained by plotting joint angular displacement against joint angular velocity. Differences in size, shape, and looping behavior showed the quantity of change and whether the changes were gradual or sudden. This noninvasive methodology and eventual standardization of angle-angle diagrams and phase planes could prove to be useful in providing more precise diagnoses of associated movements and other subtle movement disorders.