Louisa M. T. Silva, Mark Schalock, Jodi Garberg, Cynthia Lammers Smith; Qigong Massage for Motor Skills in Young Children With Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome. Am J Occup Ther 2012;66(3):348–355. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2012.003541
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In this article, we present a small randomized controlled study evaluating the effect of a dual parent- and trainer-delivered qigong massage methodology on motor skills and sensory responses in 28 children under age 4 with developmental delay and motor tone abnormalities. Fourteen children had high motor tone as a result of cerebral palsy (CP), and 14 children had low motor tone as a result of Down syndrome. Multivariate analysis and post hoc analysis of variance showed large effect-size improvements in Peabody Gross Motor Scale (PGMS) Object Manipulation scores (p < .01) and large effect-size improvements in overall PGMS scores (p < .04) in treatment versus control groups after 5 mo intervention. Follow-up evaluation 10 mo from the start indicated continued improvement. Sensory responses showed no treatment effect. The results suggest further investigation of qigong massage as a promising avenue for research to improve motor skills in young children with CP and Down syndrome.
A qigong massage methodology will improve measures of motor development in two groups: (1) children with high motor tone and CP and (2) children with low motor tone and DS.
Stability of motor improvement will occur by 10 mo.
Motor improvement will not be accompanied by concurrent sensory improvement.
Stationary: This 30-item subtest measures a child’s ability to sustain control of his or her body within its center of gravity and retain equilibrium.
Locomotion: This 89-item subtest measures a child’s ability to move from one place to another. The actions measured include crawling, walking, running, hopping, and jumping forward.
Object Manipulation: This 24-item subtest measures a child’s ability to manipulate balls. Examples of the actions measured include catching, throwing, and kicking. Because these skills are not apparent until a child has reached age 11 mo, this subtest is only given to children ≥ age 12 mo.
Movements 1, 2, and 3: Open and clear the channels to the brain and five senses; open up the circulation to the skin of the back of the body
Movement 4: Clear additional functional impediments to hearing
Movements 5, 6, and 7: Promote social interaction, speech, and self-soothing; improve circulation to the arms and hands
Movements 8 and 9: Strengthen digestion and elimination, improve circulation to the legs, improve overall physical strength and vitality
Movements 10, 11, and 12: Calm the child, improve sleep, and improve circulation to the brain.
A parent-delivered home program of daily qigong massage showed promising improvement of motor outcomes in young children with motor delays.
For occupational therapists interested in augmenting their practice with alternative therapies, qigong massage home programs can improve functional skills and offer families an alternative way to lessen the impact of disability.
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