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Keywords:

  • Longitudinal;
  • Motor overflow;
  • Motor therapy;
  • Neuromotor functions;
  • Prematurity;
  • School age;
  • Very low birth weight;
  • Zurich Neuromotor assessment

Abstract

Aim

To assess patterns of change for different neuromotor functions in very low birth weight (VLBW) children during school age and to identify factors associated with improvement.

Methods

In a longitudinal study, we examined 65 prospectively enrolled VLBW children (38 female, 59%) without cerebral palsy at age six and 10 years. Measures included the evaluation of timed motor performance and motor overflow (MO) for the motor components of the Zurich Neuromotor Assessment (pure motor-, adaptive fine- and gross motor tasks, static balance) and a standardized neurological examination. Variables associated with improvement were assessed by multiple regression analyses.

Results

Between six and 10 years, adaptive fine motor tasks (40% vs. 17% of children scoring below 10th percentile) and MO (77% vs. 55%) improved significantly (both p<0.01), while all other components remained stable (pure motor 23% vs. 25%, adaptive gross motor 26% vs. 34%, static balance 18% vs. 20%, respectively). Mild neurological abnormalities at 6 years of age were associated with less improvement.

Conclusion

Neuromotor functions improve in some children potentially reflecting catch up of maturational delay. However, the majority of neuromotor functions remain abnormal in a significant proportion of VLBW children.