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START-Play physical therapy intervention indirectly impacts cognition through changes in early motor-based problem-solving skills
Koziol NA, Kretch KS, Harbourne RT, Lobo MA, McCoy SW, Molinini R, Hsu LY, Babik I, Cunha AB, Willett SL, Bovaird JA, Dusing SC
Pediatric Physical Therapy 2023 Jul;35(3):293-302
clinical trial
6/10 [Eligibility criteria: Yes; Random allocation: Yes; Concealed allocation: No; Baseline comparability: Yes; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: No; Adequate follow-up: Yes; Intention-to-treat analysis: Yes; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: Yes. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*

PURPOSE: This study tested whether the Sitting Together and Reaching to Play (START-Play) physical therapy intervention indirectly impacts cognition through changes in perceptual-motor skills in infants with motor delays. METHODS: Participants were 50 infants with motor delays randomly assigned to START-Play plus Usual Care Early Intervention (UC-EI) or UC-EI only. Infants' perceptual-motor and cognitive skills were assessed at baseline and 1.5, 3, 6, and 12 months post-baseline. RESULTS: Short-term changes in sitting, fine motor skills, and motor-based problem-solving, but not reaching, predicted long-term changes in cognition. START-Play indirectly impacted cognition through motor-based problem-solving but not sitting, reaching, or fine motor skills. CONCLUSIONS: This study provided preliminary evidence that early physical therapy interventions that blend activities across developmental domains and are supported by an enriched social context can place infants on more optimal developmental trajectories.
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