Jane Case-Smith, Gloria J. Frolek Clark, Theresa L. Schlabach; Systematic Review of Interventions Used in Occupational Therapy to Promote Motor Performance for Children Ages Birth–5 Years. Am J Occup Ther 2013;67(4):413–424. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2013.005959
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© 2019 American Occupational Therapy Association
We examined the research evidence for interventions used in occupational therapy to promote the motor performance of young children ages 0–5 yr. We identified 24 trials, Levels I–III, that met our review criteria. The studies fell into three categories: (1) developmental interventions for infants (ages 0–3 yr), (2) interventions for young children with or at risk for cerebral palsy (CP), and (3) visual–motor interventions for preschool children (ages 3–5 yr). Developmental interventions showed low positive short-term effects with limited evidence for long-term effects, and findings on the benefits of neurodevelopmental treatment were inconclusive. Interventions using specific protocols for children with CP resulted in positive effects. Visual–motor interventions for children with developmental delays (ages 3–5 yr) resulted in short-term effects on children’s visual–motor performance. Of the intervention approaches used in occupational therapy, those that embed behavioral and learning principles appear to show positive effects.
Developmental play-based interventions for infants at risk (5 studies)
Interventions for young children with or at risk for CP (15 studies)
Visual–motor interventions for preschool children with developmental delays (4 studies).
Motor interventions that resulted in significant changes in children’s motor performance incorporated use of meaningful play activities (e.g., Aarts et al., 2010), family collaboration (e.g., Law et al., 2011; Reddihough et al., 1998), functional goals (e.g., Deluca et al., 2006; McManus & Kotelchuck, 2007), and social elements (e.g., Aarts et al., 2010; Case-Smith, 2000; Reddihough et al., 1998).
Successful interventions were based on dynamic systems therapy and motor learning theory, reinforcing the importance of building intervention principles and strategies on research-based theories.
Using behavioral (e.g., shaping, reinforcement, fading) and learning (e.g., cueing, motivating, scaffolding, presenting a just-right challenge) principles to undergird intervention strategies appears to be more potent than intervention guided solely by developmental and neurodevelopmental theories.
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