On average, infants with Down Syndrome learn to walk about 1 year later than
nondisabled(ND) infants. The purpose of this study was to determine if practice steppiong
on a motorized treadmill could help reduce the delay in walking onset normally experiences
by these infants.
Thirty families of infants with DS were randomly assigned to the intervention
or control group. All infants were karyotyped trisomy 21 and began participation in the study when they
could sit alone for 30 seconds. Infants received physical therapy at least every other week. Parents
were trained to support their infants on these specially engineered miniature treadmills. Every 2 weeks
research staff tested overall infants motor progress by administering Bayleys Scales of Infant Development
. The Primary measures of the interventions effectiveness were comparisons between the groups on
the length of time elapsed between sitting for 30 seconds and 1)raising self to stand; 2)walking with help
and 3)walking independently
The experimental group learned to walk with help and to walk independently significantly faster than the
control group. The groups were not statistically different for rate of learning to raise self to stand
but there was a moderate effect size statistic suggesting that the groups were meaningfully different
in favor of the experimental group.
These results provide evidence that with training and support, parents can use these treadmills in their
homes to help their infants with DS learn to walk earlier that they normally would.
Current Research is aimed at
All Research Reviews
1)improving the protocol to maximize outcome;
2)determining the impact of treadmill practice on walking gait patterns;
3)testing the application to otehr populations with a history of delay in walking and
4) determining the long term benefits that may accrue from this form of activity.