Early Parent-Administered Physical Therapy for Preterm Infants: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionPediatrics. 2016, 138 (2), . 10.1542/peds.2016-0271
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the short-term effect of parent-administered physical therapy in the preterm period on motor performance in medically stable infants. METHODS: This study was a pragmatic, multicenter, randomized controlled trial including 153 infants born at gestational age ≤32 weeks and randomized to an intervention (n = 74) or a control (n = 79) group. The intervention promoted postural control, head control, and midline orientation. Parents, supervised by a physical therapist, conducted the intervention 10 minutes twice a day for 3 weeks from 34 to 36 weeks’ postmenstrual age (PMA). The control group received usual care. The Test of Infant Motor Performance Screening Items was used at baseline and the Test of Infant Motor Performance postintervention (week 37 PMA). Linear mixed models were used to assess change in motor performance between groups from 34 to 37 weeks’ PMA by using z scores. Effect size was measured by using Cohen’s d. RESULTS: The mean baseline z score was 0.06 (95% confidence interval, –0.48 to 0.60). After the intervention, there was a significant group difference, indicating a change in motor performance from week 34 to 37 PMA favoring the intervention group. The estimated difference in z scores was 0.42 (95% confidence interval, 0.13 to 0.72; P = .005), and the effect size was 0.40. CONCLUSIONS: Parent-administered physical therapy conducted before term-equivalent age improved motor performance at 37 weeks’ PMA more than conventional care. All infants will be followed up until 2 years’ corrected age to evaluate the long-term effects of this brief intervention.