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The use of auditory, tactile, and simultaneous audio-tactile stimulation to enhance gait training for children with disabilities




Veteto, Kristin Noel, author
LaGasse, Ashley Blythe, advisor
Davis, William B., committee member
Browning, Ray, committee member

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Given that the prevalence of developmental disabilities is rising in U.S. children and acknowledging that these children show lower gross motor outcomes than their typically developing peers, it is necessary to investigate potential treatments that enhance children's physical functioning. The present study examined the effects of external auditory, tactile, and audio-tactile stimuli on gait parameters in children with developmental disabilities. Participants were asked to walk a 10 meter walkway while being exposed to these three different stimuli in a randomized order. A pretest served to gather cadence, which was then programed into the external rhythmic sources. Gait parameters including cadence, velocity, and stride length were gathered during each walk by two raters. Each participant served as their own control and received all experimental stimuli conditions. A cross analysis of the raw data showed a tendency towards auditory rhythmic cueing as the most likely stimuli to show synchronization; however, no evidence was found to support that children with developmental disabilities can entrain to an external rhythmic stimuli. Although changes were observed in gait parameters, no clear evidence was found to support that children with developmental disabilities show benefits in gait functioning from the addition of external rhythmic facilitation. Suggestions for future research are discussed.


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