8:19 a.m., Feb. 9, 2009----Stacey Dusing, assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University, has joined the research team in the University of Delaware's Infant Motor Behavior Laboratory.
Dusing's two-year stay here, which began in June 2008, is enabled through her role as a faculty scholar in the Comprehensive Opportunities in Rehabilitation Research Training (CORRT) program.
Funded by the National Institutes of Heath, CORRT is a collective effort of seven universities, including the University of Delaware, each of which has a rich history of developing basic and applied rehabilitation scientists. Selected scholars spend the first two years of training at one of the seven participating institutions and the last three at their home institutions.
Working with mentors Cole Galloway, associate professor in UD's Department of Physical Therapy, and Mark Stanton, professor in the Department of Psychology, Dusing is investigating the development of postural control in preterm infants.
Her work is aimed at determining the relationship between postural control and the development of reaching, thereby providing a foundation for the development of early intervention strategies for infants at risk for motor and cognitive disabilities.
“We know very little about the development of posture in very young children,” Dusing says, “but the effects are far-reaching, as posture, or core strength, influences the development of other motor skills such as reaching, sitting and walking. Preliminary data show that there are differences in posture between preterm and full-term infants at just two weeks of age.”
“Early intervention can help,” she adds, “but clinicians don't have tools to help them reliably identify who has impaired postural control before the age of six months.” The question is important not only for the development and implementation of early intervention strategies but also for the distribution of limited services and resources.
In addition to the CORRT grant, Dusing recently received support for her work from the American Physical Therapy Association Section on Pediatrics.
She is the principal investigator on a planning grant for a multi-site study in early intervention entitled “Does Early Postural Intervention Affect Sitting Balance or Reaching in Infants Born Preterm?”
She will be working with Galloway and postdoctoral researcher Michele Lobo on the new program, as well as with researchers from Ohio State University, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and the University of Washington.
Article by Diane Kukich
Photo by Duane Perry