Pediatric Therapeutic Services

Research Roundup: Motor Control, Brain Development, and More

Insights from Recent Studies Help You Serve Students More and Grow Your Career

Female therapist sits at table in school classroom reviewing motor control and brain development research on laptop computer.

Knowing what’s new in pediatric therapy can help you serve students more effectively. It can also drive your professional growth, because you’ll be familiar with the field’s current and emerging priorities.

But how do you find time to review research when individual and group sessions, data collection and reporting, and IEP team meetings fill your days?

At Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS), we stay on top of relevant research and pass key takeaways to our clinicians.

Here’s our overview of some recent studies on children’s motor control, brain development, and behavioral issues. We hope these summaries help you apply the latest, evidence-based best practices to your work.

Toward a Conceptual Framework for Early Brain and Behavior Development in Autism

This study explores how measuring developmental brain controls and behavior mechanisms early in a child with autism’s life can benefit early intervention strategies.

Recent findings suggest that, while autism’s physiological processes emerge during mid-fetal development, high-risk siblings’ defining symptoms surface late in the first and second years of life.

The authors cite an important neurological study reviewing brain development in infant siblings of children with autism. The study found brain volume overgrowth, associated with emerging autistic social deficits, in these siblings’ second year.

School-based therapists will appreciate how this piece of early childhood brain development research shines light on autism’s molecular and neurological details. Knowing more about how autism has affected your students’ neural pathways can help you design and implement quality interventions.

Efficacy of Behavioral Classroom Programs in Primary School. A Meta-Analysis Focusing on Randomized Controlled Trials

Female therapist sits with young boy on playmat, watching him practice motor control with different shaped puzzle pieces.

This study evaluates how behavioral classroom programs impact students with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and conduct disorder (CD).

The paper endorses non-medicinal interventions for reducing disruptive behavior in children with these conditions. According to the authors’ sources, 20-30% of children who take medication for ADHD suffer from adverse side effects. Likewise, medication for ODD and CD is not recommended except for treating severe cases.  

Previous studies on classroom behavior management plans failed to focus on randomized controlled trials (RCTs). RCTs are essential to minimizing research biases.

In contrast, these authors decided to analyze available RCTs on the effects of behavioral classroom programs in primary schools. Their study reveals behavioral classroom programs do yield “small beneficial effects on disruptive behavior and on-task behavior.”

School-based therapists will note the study’s findings suggest universal programs for whole classrooms can help reduce disruptive behaviors. It’s a method for multiplying therapy’s effectiveness we at PTS have long advocated!

Effects of Physical Activity on Motor Skills and Cognitive Development in Early Childhood: A Systematic Review

This study examines data from 15 randomized controlled trials. The trials measured physical activity’s effects on four- to six-year-olds’ motor system skills.

The authors begin by acknowledging the importance of physical activity for children. Drawing from statistical data and sources, they note links between motor control skills and brain cognitive functions, cardio fitness, and self-esteem.

Eight of the 10 studies assessing the connection between physical activity and motor skills found improvements in motor performance. Of the remaining five studies, which focused on the connection between body movements and cognitive development, four revealed positive outcomes in language learning, academics, attention, and working memory.

While not specific to students receiving related services, this data can serve as background knowledge for pediatric therapists looking to include complex movements and other physical activity in sessions. Doing so can help students control movement and experience greater success in school as a result.

Let PTS Help You Keep Up So You Don’t Have to Play Catch Up

Researchers are always offering new insights into human brain development, motor control skills, and other factors key for understanding and helping students with disabilities and disorders. We at PTS review the studies and make sure you know about them.

We integrate high-quality research into our training sessions and resources, so you’ll be able to take advantage of the most current knowledge and advanced techniques. 

You won’t have to play “catch up” because the ongoing training and support we provide make it easy for you to keep up! Working with us, you’ll enhance your capability, increase your confidence, and accelerate your career.

Want to know more about how PTS can help you become the best therapist you can be? Call us today at 610-941-7020 or get in touch with us online.

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