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Development of head control and the effect of body orientation in preterm and term infants at 5 and 6 months old

Grant number: 15/01175-4
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2015
Effective date (End): July 31, 2016
Field of knowledge:Health Sciences - Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy
Principal Investigator:Eloisa Tudella
Grantee:Letícia de Oliveira Batista
Home Institution: Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde (CCBS). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil


Context: The development of head control is the first developmental milestone to be seen for the emergence of more complex motor skills in the following months. By the fifth month, the infant has efficient visual tracking of the target with eye and head motion and by the sixth month acquires control of the head and the ability to modify its posture adjustment according to the task demands, since it reaches the adaptive variability phase of postural control. Change in postural orientation and provision of external support for the head were seen to be beneficial to head movement until the fourth month, however studies about this topic are scarce at five and six months old. Objective: Verify the behavioral parameters of head movement in preterm and full-term infants at 5 and 6 months in three different body orientations. Methodology: Twenty two full-term infants (11 at five months and 11 at six months old) and 16 preterm infants (9 at five months and 7 at six months old) will participate in this study. The infants will be evaluated during 7 minutes in three positions: unsupported supine, supported supine and supported reclined. During the evaluation a visual stimulation card will be presented to the infant, which will be moved manually in order to elicit head motion. Expected results: Gains in the frequency and amplitude of head movements with increasing age are expected, as well as benefits in the handling by providing external support for the head, particularly in preterm infants, since the support promotes better alignment between the head and trunk and this population may have postural asymmetry.