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Qualitative and Quantitative Assessment of Overarm Throwing in Children With and Without Developmental Coordination Disorder

Nadja Schott and Nancy Getchell

Background: Children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) frequently have difficulties performing gross motor skills such as the overarm throw. Our study examines the differences in both qualitative and quantitative characteristics of overarm throwing for accuracy between typically developing (TD) and children with DCD. Methods: A total of 74 children (36 females/38 males) aged between 7 and 11 years, participated in this study. The authors used the Movement Assessment Battery for Children—second edition to assess motor impairment. In total, 37 (50%) met the criteria for DCD. Each participant completed 10 overarm throws for accuracy at a target. The authors assessed movement quality using the component approach () and quantity using target accuracy. Results: The analyses revealed significantly lower throwing accuracy in DCD versus TD children. Children with DCD also demonstrated fewer component combinations and lower developmental levels than their TD peers. Finally, product scores tracked with process scores. Discussion: Both qualitative and quantitative measures clearly showed that children with DCD are at a disadvantage in controlling a ball during overarm throwing. They used stability profiles that limited coordination variability. TD participants performed more combinations of higher developmental levels to achieve more accurate throws, suggesting they controlled variability to optimize the accuracy of their throws.

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The Development of Period Correction Processes in Motor Coordination: Adaptation to Temporal Perturbation

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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Dual Motor Task Coordination in Children with and Without Learning Disabilities

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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Motor Development Research: Designs, Analyses, and Future Directions

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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The Effect of Nonspecific Task Constraints on Quadrupedal Locomotion: I. Interlimb Coordination

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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Assessing Hopping Developmental Level in Childhood Using Wearable Inertial Sensor Devices

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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Does Gender Influence Physical Activity and Psychosocial Factors in Older Exercisers? A Pilot Study

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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The Effect of Auditory Pacing on Period Stability and Temporal Consistency in Children With and Without Dyslexia Co-Existing Motor Dysfunction

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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Prefrontal Cortex Activity in Siblings With and Without Developmental Coordination Disorder: An Exploratory Study

Mandy S. Plumb, Megan Charity, Kimberly Milla, Barry Bodt, and Nancy Getchell

Background: Previous research suggests that children with or at risk of probable developmental coordination disorder (pDCD) activate different areas of the brain when performing certain motor skills compared with typically developing (TD) children. This study used functional near-infrared spectroscopy to compare prefrontal cortex (PFC) activity in TD and pDCD during the completion of manual (three-dimensional [3D]) and computerized versions (two-dimensional) of the Tower of Hanoi (ToH) puzzle. Method: A total of 12 children (TD and pDCD; one female/11 male, x ¯ = 10.36 , SD ± 1.52 years) performed the two-dimensional and 3D conditions of the ToH disk tasks, with equivalent executive function but different motor requirements, with functional near-infrared spectroscopy to compare PFC activity. Results: Interestingly, brain oxygenation levels were more apparent in the 3D versus two-dimensional ToH. In the 3D, there were large differences between pairs of discordant sibling sets and this was located to the right medial PFC, with pDCD exhibiting less activation in this region. Conclusion: While only exploratory, we have identified potential differences in the right medial PFC region, which differs within sibling sets with different pDCD status. These results concur with previous studies and are an area that needs to be explored further with a larger cohort of TD and pDCD.

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Short Term Auditory Pacing Changes Dual Motor Task Coordination in Children With and Without Dyslexia

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.