Healthcare Insider Blog

Study shows Doctors of Physical Therapy strengthening motor skills in Autism patients may ultimately improve social and communication skills

  • Healthcare Alvernia

According to research, Doctors of Physical Therapy can do more than just improve strength and balance in patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

A study done by researchers at Oregon State University surveyed the development and motor skills of 159 children between ages 12 months to 33 months, including 110 children with an autism diagnosis.

Doctors of Physical Therapy strengthening motor skills Researchers learned that children with weaker motor skills displayed higher levels of calibrated autism severity and showed a close relationship between motor skills and the core characteristics of Autism, including the social and communicative aspects.

Dr. Megan MacDonald, an expert in the field of movement and skills in those with ASD, conducted the study and recommends that motor skills be included in early intervention programming for children with ASD.

“Recognizing those deficits really early gives us more time to help children catch up to their peers in regards to motor skill,” said MacDonald.

And, she is not alone in this theory. Patricia West-Low, PT, DPT, PCS, staff therapist at Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside, N.J. was quoted in an Advance Healthcare Network article, saying “It’s important we hop on the motor skills end early because poor motor skills are related to poor social skills,” stated West-Low, “If they can move through space with confidence, they can expand their social realm.

Students in Alvernia’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program will learn to treat patients facing neuromuscular impairments, which sometimes include patients with ASD, through courses such as Neuromuscular Physical Therapy Practice I, II, and III. Students will learn incidence/prevalence, clinical signs and symptoms, prognosis and potential for recovery, and many other topics related to the patient population.

Effective November 12, 2014, Alvernia University has been granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314; phone: 703-706-3245; email: Candidacy is not an accreditation status nor does it assure eventual accreditation. Candidate for Accreditation is a pre-accreditation status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education that indicates the program is progressing toward accreditation.

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