news releases

2005.11.07 > For Immediate Release
contact: Tim Kaldahl - University Affairs
phone: 402.554.3502 - email: tkaldahl@mail.unomaha.edu

Infants Needed for UNO/UNMC Research Study on Developmental Disabilities

Omaha - Researchers at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) are seeking infants to participate in an innovative and important study that will help learn about motor control and developmental disabilities and their treatment options.  Both healthy infants and infants who have been identified with motor delays are needed.

"This is the kind of work that can make a tremendous difference," said Nick Stergiou, the principal investigator for the grant and a professor in the UNO School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER), an academic unit of the UNO College of Education.  "The more we learn, the earlier we can intervene when a child is experiencing delays, and the better their life will be.  This work is so important."

The study, "Investigation of the Development of Sitting Postural Control in Infants with Cerebral Palsy or Motor Delays," is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.  The study will be ongoing for three years.

The study has two aims: to better understand development of independent sitting in typical children, and to identify whether center-based physical therapy or an in-home program provides a better outcome for children who are having difficulty learning to sit.  Children with delays in sitting development receive therapy either once or twice weekly with experienced therapists for a period of eight weeks.  More than 50 children are needed for the study.

Sitting upright is something an infant typically achieves at six or seven months.  If that ability is not achieved, standing balance and walking can also be significantly delayed, Stergiou said.  Independent sitting also frees up an infant's arms so they can explore, play and learn.  Research has linked the ability to sit independently to greater success in maintaining contact with objects and improved eye-hand coordination of infants learning to reach. 

Infants between five-months-old and two years are needed for the study.  Because an infant will need to make several clinic visits to be in the study, families who live in the metropolitan area are being sought.  A small stipend is available to cover travel costs.

For more information, call (402) 554-3075.  For details on the study, parents are encouraged to speak with the physical therapists involved in the study at the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute. Reggie Harbourne, PT, and Sandy Willett, PT, can be reached at (402) 559-6415.

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