To determine the effect of enhanced sensory input on the step frequency of infants with myelomeningocele (MMC) when supported on a motorized treadmill.
Twenty-seven infants aged 2 to 10 months with MMC lesions at, or caudal to, L1 participated. We supported infants upright on the treadmill for 2 sets of 6 trials, each 30 seconds long. Enhanced sensory inputs within each set were presented in random order and included baseline, visual flow, unloading, weights, Velcro, and friction.
Overall friction and visual flow significantly increased step rate, particularly for the older subjects. Friction and Velcro increased stance-phase duration. Enhanced sensory input had minimal effect on leg activity when infants were not stepping.
: Increased friction via Dycem and enhancing visual flow via a checkerboard pattern on the treadmill belt appear to be more effective than the traditional smooth black belt surface for eliciting stepping patterns in infants with MMC.