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Center for Motor Behavior & Pediatric Disabilities

Current Research

Longitudinal Study of Locomotor Activity in Infants and Toddlers with Spina Bifida

Principal Investigator: Beverly Ulrich, Ph.D.

The purpose of this study is to describe and analyze the development of leg control in infants born with and without spina bifida. We will focus on the quality (smoothness and coordination) and quantity of infants' and toddlers' stepping movements from the time they are one month until the child has 3 months of walking experience. We expect that our results will help us understand the impact of internal (spinal cord lesions) and external factors (environmental influences) on motor skill acquisition in infants.

Who can take part in this study?
Infants and toddlers born with spina bifida and typically developing infants will participate in this study. Infants with spina bifida must have no known chromosomal anomalies or CNS abnormalities with the exception of ones known to be associated with spina bifida, such as hydrocephalus and Arnold Chiari syndrome. Infants with typical development must be free from any known genetic, motor, or cognitive disorders.

Each child will be followed from one month of age until he/she is 18 months of age, plus each child will be tested when he/she first begins to walk independently and when he/she has 3 months of walking experience, for a total of 7-8 visits per child. The actual age at which each child completes the study will be dependent on the child's own development, ending at either 18 months (if 3 months of walking experience occurs before age 18 months) or after (if 3 months of walking experience occurs after age 18 months). Each visit takes about 1.5 hours for data collection. The entire study is expected to last about five years.

If you would like to learn more about participating in one of our studies, please call us at (734) 615-1494 or email us at When calling, please request Cheryl Drenning and reference the Spina Bifida study.

All Current Research

Center for Motor Behavior & Pediatric Disabilities
401 Washtenaw Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2214
(734)936-2607, Fax (734)936-1925

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Copyright © 1999 The Regents of the University of Michigan
Created September 1, 1999