Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Premature Infant Mini-Skateboard

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Brain, Health, Medicine, Young Children

Ed Hessler

Here is a very short YouTube video (0.41 s)  showing a very preterm infant using a lie-in skateboard to practice moving shortly after birth. The article (April 23, 2023) explaining reasons for the use of the device is behind a paywall (New Scientist).

However, this short essay by Adrianna Nine (Extreme Tech, April 26, 2023) has several still photographic images in which you can see some of the details you can't see or are difficult to see in the video. Here are the first two paragraphs of her reporting. 

"When a baby is born very premature—before 32 weeks of gestation—they have a one-in-three chance of experiencing some sort of motor impairment. In some cases, the baby might begin to crawl later than their full-term counterparts; in others, they might experience fine motor “defects” that make it difficult to catch a ball or maintain balance as toddlers. A key way to prevent these challenges is to help the baby build their motor skills shortly after birth, but given babies are brand-new humans, this is easier said than done. 

"Scientists in France have developed a tool to help. Marianne Barbu-Roth, who studies the impact of movement on human neurology (the "BabyLab" )at Paris Cité University, has worked with her colleagues to develop a skateboard-like device that helps premature infants practice moving. Based on early trials, the device—called Crawliskate—appears to facilitate motor skill development, leading premature babies to meet major movement milestones within full-term time frames."

Nine discusses the use and testing of Crawliskate, closing with comments on the team's next trials.

In a long preprint (52 p. PDF) on MedRXiv posted March 29, 2023, the BabyLab team lists the additions the paper adds to previous findings.

  • Very premature infants can propel themselves on a mini-skateboard using crawling movements at term equivalent age

  • Eight weeks of daily, at-home early crawling training immediately following discharge from the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) facilitates the acquisition of mature crawling in premature infants

  • Eight weeks of early crawling training positively influences motor development in premature infants

  • Eight weeks of early crawling training positively influences general development in premature infants

  • Early daily at-home crawling is a promising intervention for premature infants at heightened risk for motor delays and disabilities, potentially feasible for parents to conduct

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