Physical Fitness and Functional Ability of Children with Intellectual Disability: Effects of a Short-Term Daily Treadmill InterventionReport as inadecuate

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TheScientificWorldJOURNAL - Volume 4 2004, Pages 449-457

Research Article

Zvi Quittman Residential Center, The Millie Shime Campus, Elwyn, Jerusalem, Israel

2Orthopedic Department, Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital, Raanana, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Sarah Herzog Children Village, Afula, Israel

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Office of the Medical Director, Division for Mental Retardation, Ministry of Social Affairs, Jerusalem and Zusman Child Development Center, Division of Pediatrics and Community Health, Ben Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, Israel

Received 30 November 2003; Revised 20 May 2004; Accepted 22 May 2004

Academic Editor: Mohammed Morad

Copyright © 2004 Meir Lotan et al.


Persons with intellectual disability ID and associated multiple disabilities have been found by many researchers to be a population with deficient physical fitness measures, which can be explained by an inactive lifestyle, a result of lack of awareness of the positive physical effects of physical exercise, or lack of motivation for any motor activity. Various plans for physical exercise have been put forward, but many are found impractical in nonresearch-based intervention. In this study, 15 children with ID on a motor functioning level of 7—14 months used a treadmill daily for 2 months. Our findings indicated a most significant improvement in the level of physical fitness of the participants p < 0.005, as measured by pulse at rest and during effort. The improvement in physical fitness modestly r = 0.5, but significantly p < 0.05, correlated with a significant p < 0.0007 improvement in functional ability of the participating children. Further examination a year after intervention terminated showed a return to preintervention pulse-at-rest values. The research examined the treadmill training method and found that it can be operated with the support of an unskilled staff person under the supervision of a physiotherapist. The research was performed under real-life conditions, enabling relatively easy implementation in the existing conditions of special education centers. This method is a type of exercise that is easy to operate without entailing long-term budgetary expenses and might improve the health status of children with ID, who are a population at risk for developing heart-related diseases at a young age.

Author: Meir Lotan, Eli Isakov, Shlomo Kessel, and Joav Merrick



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