The Effect of Walking with an Assistive Device and Using a Wheelchair on School Performance in Students with Myelomeningocele
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An alternating-condition, single-subject research design was used to examine the effect of ambulation on three measures of school performance in three students with myelomeningocele. The subjects, aged 9, 10, and 15 years, had a physiological cost index greater than 1.00 beats per meter when walking with crutches or a walker. Subjects propelled a wheelchair at school for 5 days, ambulated with crutches or a walker for 5 days, and propelled a wheelchair for an additional 5 days. Performance in reading fluency, visuomotor accuracy, and manual dexterity was assessed at the end of each school day. Results were graphed and analyzed using the two-standard-deviation band method. All subjects had significantly lower visuomotor accuracy scores during the assistive-device ambulation phase than during the wheelchair phases. Performance in manual dexterity during the assistive-device ambulation and wheelchair phases varied among the subjects. Reading fluency was not affected by method of mobility. The results suggest that the high energy cost of walking may have a negative effect on certain aspects of the subjects' school performance. [Franks CA, Palisano RJ, Darbee JC. The effect of walking with an assistive device and using a wheelchair on school performance in students with myelomeningocele.
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