Specific postural support promotes variation in motor behaviour of infants with minor neurological dysfunction

Victorine B de Graaf-Peters, Agnes H De Groot-Hornstra, Tineke Dirks, Mijna Hadders-Algra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study evaluated the effect of specific postural support on motor behaviour of infants with and without minor neurological dysfunction (MND). The following questions were addressed: (1) Does application of supportive pillows affect the time during which the infant exhibits general movements (GMs) or specific movements? We defined specific movements as movements of specific parts of the body that occur in a specific, recognizable way. (2) Does application of pillows improve the quality of GMs or the repertoire of specific movements? (3) Is a pillow effect affected by neurological condition? Forty healthy, term infants (16 males, 24 females; mean age 3.04 m [SD 1.24 mo], range 1-5 mo) participated in the study. Twenty were neurologically normal and 20 had MND. Spontaneous motor behaviour in a supine position was video-recorded for 180 seconds in four conditions applied in random order: support by a pillow in (1) the shoulder region, (2) the pelvic region, (3) the shoulder and pelvic region, or (4) no pillow support. Two independent assessors evaluated the quality of GMs. The other movement parameters were assessed with a computer program. Duration of movements was determined and a variation index, consisting of the number of different specific movements in a condition, was calculated. The presence of pillows did not affect the time spent in GMs, specific movements, or GM quality in either group. In neurologically normal infants the shoulder pillow with or without pelvic pillow induced an increase in the variation index (p<0.01), whereas in the infants with MND, all pillow conditions resulted in a substantial increase of the movement repertoire (p<0.001). Our results demonstrate that specific postural support promotes variation in motor behaviour of young infants. This is particularly true for infants with MND.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)966-972
Number of pages7
JournalDevelopmental medicine & child neurology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2006


  • child development
  • motor activity
  • nervous system diseases
  • orthotic devices
  • thorax


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