Children with Down Syndrome Can Develop Twice as Fast, Write Physicians in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons

Tucson, Arizona, UNITED STATES

TUCSON, Ariz., June 14, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In the old paradigm, children with developmental cognitive disabilities (“mental retardation”) were too often considered uneducable and incurable, write obstetrician/gynecologists Patrick James (“Paddy Jim”) Baggot and Rocel Medina Baggot in the summer issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. But analysis of a 25-year longitudinal data base containing 248 children with Down syndrome showed that special training could double the rate of intellectual development.

The method, developed at the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential (IAHP), includes movement exercises, “patterning,” early reading and mathematical education, and athletic activities. Baggot explains that physical exercise promotes brain development in several ways.

IAHP staff train parents and caregivers to perform the therapy. The staff performs a standardized developmental assessment before initiation of therapy and at a follow-up visit an average of 13 months later.

The rate of change of the neurological age vs. change in chronological age was compared for the two assessments. The authors explain that the speed of development approximately doubled after therapy began. For example, a child with a neurologic age of about 8 months at age 13 months was making about 6 months of neurologic progress in a 10-month interval. That child at his first follow-up might have made 13 months of neurologic progress over 7.5 months, a rate of 17 months neurologic progress per 10 months, or nearly twice as fast as before treatment.

The authors state that these results, which show strong positive effects from environmental enrichment, are consistent with findings of animal research, as well as studies of children adopted from deprived circumstances.

Combined mental and physical training stimulate nerve cell growth. “Development is a physiologic process, and can be manipulated, just like pulse or blood pressure,” they write.

“Down syndrome children have much greater potential for development than many realize. Methods discussed here for environmental enrichment should be studied for their potential to enhance brain development in other conditions, and in normal children as well,” they conclude.

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.


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