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David Clizbe and Nancy Getchell

The third in a series of studies investigating the development of multilimb coordination in children, this study investigates the ability to period correct, or resynchronize limbs after a temporal perturbation. Participants performed single (clap, walk) and dual (simultaneously clap and walk) motor tasks to a metronome, which was randomly perturbed (either increase or decrease in speed). In the walk/metronome coupling, a significant interaction existed in relative phase error between age group and cycle with less relative phase error on the third and forth cycle with increased age. In the clap/metronome, a main effect existed for cycle (increasing with cycle) and age (decreasing with age), but no interactions existed. Neither task (single or dual) nor direction of perturbation (speed increase/decrease) had a statistical effect. The results suggested that developmental trajectories may exist in period correction processes; further research examining continuous data over longer collection periods should be performed to confirm this finding.

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Elizabeth Orsega-Smith, Nancy Getchell and Lindsay Palkovitz

How does gender influence physical and psychosocial characteristics in physically active older adults? Much of the previous research on physical function in older women focuses on either the frailty of older women or on physical function irrespective of gender. These studies leave unknown the specific influence of regular physical activity on older women.

Furthermore, few studies have examined the relationship between physical activity and psychosocial characteristics in older exercisers. We wanted to investigate whether differences exist between groups of older female and male adults who maintain a physically active lifestyle. Twenty-three female and 14 male physically active older adults performed physical function tests (i.e., chair stands, timed up-and-go, 6-minute walk) and filled out questionnaires related to psychosocial measures (i.e., social support, self-esteem, satisfaction with life). There were no differences in any physical function between the groups, and only one psychosocial measure (guidance) statistically differed (F (1, 31) = 4.14, p = .044). These results suggest that physically active women may not necessarily follow the trajectory towards frailty. More research needs to be done with a greater range of ages and physical activity levels.

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Nancy Getchell, Susan McMenamin and Jill Whitall

This study examines gross motor coordination in children with and without learning disabilities using a dynamical systems perspective. In a dual motor task paradigm (walk/clap, gallop/clap), we measured and compared frequency and phase locking and consistency within and across trials in 12 children with learning disabilities and 12 age-matched typically developing children. In the walk/clap condition, groups differed in consistency and in entrainment (increased frequency of 4 limb coupling) over short-term practice. In the gallop/clap condition, groups differed in consistency; neither group showed entrainment. Comparisons within the LD group of participants with and without diagnosed visual-motor problems showed differences in classification, consistency, and entrainment. These results suggest that gross motor coordination tasks provide information about as well as a novel opportunity for early identification of learning disabilities.

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Jill Whitall, Larry Forrester and Nancy Getchell

The present study examined the effect of nonspecific task constraints on the multilimb coordination task of preferred-speed crawling. Adult subjects undertook three trials each of the following randomly ordered conditions: forward prone (FP), backward supine (BS), backward prone (BP) and forward supine (FS). Subjects adopted specific coordinative solutions consistent with task-related function rather than anatomical specification. The patterns were relatively stable, with BP being least stable. Across conditions, subjects changed their velocity in a predictable order that corresponded to the various constraints. These velocity changes were largely attributable to stride length adjustments and not limb frequency. Within a condition, neither velocity nor anthropometrics appeared to influence the coordinative solution. Overall, rather large differences were found in coordinative solutions, possibly owing to the nature of the tasks and/or individual searching strategies. The results were interpretable within a dynamic approach to coordination and support the idea that coordination is functionally rather than anatomically determined.

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Nancy Getchell, Nadja Schott and Ali Brian

Throughout this special issue, different authors have discussed diverse aspects of past, present, and future motor development research. In such research, understanding how people move involves much more than studying motor behavior in individuals of different ages. Rather, empirical designs should embed some element of past, present, and future motor behavior into research questions, designs, methodologies, and interpretations. In this article, we provide an overview on the process of asking movement-related developmental questions and designing appropriate research studies that will answer them to provide a foundation for both new and returning investigators interested in studying human motor development. We compare descriptive and experimental approaches as well as longitudinal, cross-sectional, and alternative research designs, followed by a discussion of common statistical analyses suited for these designs. Through this discussion, we offer suggestions for the most appropriate ways in which to study developmental change. We finish with our thoughts on future directions for investigational methods within motor development research.

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Nancy Getchell, Samuel J. Mackenzie and Adam R. Marmon

This study examined the effect of short-term auditory pacing practice on dual motor task performance in children with and without dyslexia. Groups included dyslexic with Movement Assessment Battery for Children (MABC) scores > 15th percentile (D_HIGH, n = 18; mean age 9.89 ± 2.0 years), dyslexic with MABC ≤ 15th percentile (D_LOW, n = 15; mean age 10.43 ± 1.8 years), and typically developing (TD, n = 18; mean age 10.64 ± 1.8 years). Participants clapped and walked simultaneously for 3 pretest trials, completed 16 trials with auditory pacing, and 3 posttest trials without pacing. D_LOW differed significantly from D_HIGH and TD in mean relative phase (MRP) of the clap relative to the step, and variability (VRP) of the MRP. Significant differences also existed between pretest blocks and all other blocks in MRP. The results suggest that a short-term auditory pacing may be effective in improving MRP in all children. Further, there may be subtypes of dyslexia wherein children have more profound coordination difficulties and may preferentially change dual motor task performance with auditory pacing.

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Nancy Getchell, Ling-Yin Liang, Daphne Golden and Samuel W. Logan

The primary purpose of this study was to examine the effect of auditory pacing on period stability and temporal consistency of a dual motor task in children with and without dyslexia and with varying amounts of motor deficiency. Fifty-four children were divided into groups based on dyslexia diagnosis and score on the Movement Assessment Battery for Children-Second Edition (Movement ABC-2). Participants performed a dual motor task (clapping while walking) at a self-determined pace in a pretest block, practiced 4 blocks of 4 trials with a metronome pacing signal, and finished with a posttest block without auditory pacing. Measures of period stability (interclap/interheel strike intervals across trial blocks) and temporal consistency (coefficient of variation of period with trials) were taken. The results suggest that auditory pacing may improve period stability across groups, but does not appear to impact temporal consistency. Weak support existed for a general impairment of motor function in children diagnosed with dyslexia.

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Ilaria Masci, Giuseppe Vannozzi, Nancy Getchell and Aurelio Cappozzo

Assessing movement skills is a fundamental issue in motor development. Current process-oriented assessments, such as developmental sequences, are based on subjective judgments; if paired with quantitative assessments, a better understanding of movement performance and developmental change could be obtained. Our purpose was to examine the use of inertial sensors to evaluate developmental differences in hopping over distance. Forty children executed the task wearing the inertial sensor and relevant time durations and 3D accelerations were obtained. Subjects were also categorized in different developmental levels according to the hopping developmental sequence. Results indicated that some time and kinematic parameters changed with some developmental levels, possibly as a function of anthropometry and previous motor experience. We concluded that, since inertial sensors were suitable in describing hopping performance and sensitive to developmental changes, this technology is promising as an in-field and user-independent motor development assessment tool.

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Samuel W. Logan, E. Kipling Webster, Nancy Getchell, Karin A. Pfeiffer and Leah E. Robinson

The purpose of this review is to synthesize the evidence of the relationship between fundamental motor skills (FMS) competence and physical activity by qualitatively describing results from 13 studies that met rigorous inclusion criteria. Inclusion criteria: (a) published in a peer-review journal, (b) participants were between the ages of 3–18, (c) participants were typically developing, (d) FMS was measured by a process-oriented assessment, (e) assessed physical activity, (f) related FMS and physical activity through statistical procedures, and (g) printed in English. Databases were searched for relevant articles using key terms related to FMS and physical activity. Evidence suggested low to moderate relationships between FMS competence and physical activity in early childhood (r = .16 to .48; R 2 = 3–23%, 4 studies), low to high relationships in middle to late childhood (r = .24 to .55; R 2 = 6–30%, 7 studies), and low to moderate relationships in adolescence (r = .14 to .35; R 2 = 2–12.3%, 2 studies). Across ages, object control skills and locomotor skills were more strongly related to physical activity for boys and girls, respectively. Future research should emphasize experimental and longitudinal research designs to provide further understanding of the relationship between FMS competence and physical activity.

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Jane E. Clark, Farid Bardid, Nancy Getchell, Leah E. Robinson, Nadja Schott and Jill Whitall

Motor development research has had a rich history over the 20th century with a wide array of scientists contributing to a broad and deep body of literature. Just like the process of development, progress within the field has been non-linear, with rapid periods of growth occurring after the publication of key research articles that changed how we conceptualized and explored motor development. These publications provided new ways to consider developmental issues and, as a result, ignited change in our theoretical and empirical approaches within the field of motor development and the broader field of developmental psychology. In this paper, we outline and discuss six pioneering studies that we consider significant in their impact and in the field’s evolution, in order of publication: Halverson, 1931; Wild, 1938; Gibson & Walk, 1960; Connolly, Brown, & Bassett, 1968; Thelen & Fisher, 1982; Thelen & Ulrich, 1991. We have limited this review to empirical papers only. Together, they offer insight into what motor development research is, where it came from, why it matters, and what it has achieved.