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Researchers to Study the Parent-Child Interaction During Treadmill Stepping with Toddlers with Down syndrome

Aug. 28, 2012

Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee received a one-year, $50,000 grant from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin (CTSI) to study interaction between parent and child during developmental stimulation of children with global developmental delays, specifically Down syndrome.

The primary investigator is Victoria Moerchen, Ph.D., P.T., assistant professor of kinesiology at UWM. Co-primary investigators are UWM’s Rachel Schiffman, Ph.D., R.N., Associate Dean for Research and professor of nursing; and Paula Rhyner, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research in the College of Health Sciences, and professor of communication sciences and disorders.

The interdisciplinary project will use a parent-delivered treadmill intervention as the context within which to examine the contribution of the parent-child interaction to both the motor and communicative responsiveness of toddlers with Down syndrome. To test the hypothesis that the parent-child interaction can be the foundation for addressing the child’s development in more than one domain simultaneously, this study will examine methods for characterizing the dyadic interaction and the motor and communicative responses of the child during a novel face-to face motor activity. The long term goal of this research is to develop a model of early intervention that optimizes the parent-child interaction as the primary mechanism for stimulating development of child with global developmental delays.

This is one of 19 pilot projects being funded in 2012 through CTSI. The goal is to create synergy through collaboration, and studies are specifically designed to lead to major future research support. The projects explore findings that have the potential to be translated into clinical practice and community health, and are led by investigators at the CTSI’s eight partnering institutions: the Medical College of Wisconsin, Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, UW-Milwaukee, Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the VA Medical Center, and the BloodCenter of Wisconsin.

CTSI is part of a national consortium of top medical research institutions. Working together, the CTSI institutions are committed to improve human health by streamlining science, transforming training environments and improving the conduct, quality and dissemination of clinical and translational research. The CTSI program is led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Support for the Pilot Award Program comes from the National Institutes of Health and the John and Jeanne Byrnes CTSI Award, and the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin program, and its Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center.

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