Research

Infant in DIMPL lab interacting with the infant kicking-activated mobile
from Sargent B, et al, 2014, PLoS ONE 9(3): e91500.

We believe that to achieve optimal functional outcomes, infants at risk for neurodevelopmental disabilities must be identified early and participate in intensive, carefully engineered, targeted therapy programs in infancy when their neural circuitry is developing.

Our research focuses on understanding typical/atypical motor learning and development to inform the early identification and intervention of infants at risk for neurodevelopmental disabilities.

 

 

Current projects include:

Quantifying selective motor control of infants at high risk for cerebral palsy

infant foot reaching with sensors on legs

Infant stepping on treadmill with support

Infants at high risk for cerebral palsy have reduced selective hip-knee control.  The purpose of this study is to quantify the selective control of infants with cerebral palsy while spontaneously kicking from 1 to 9 months of age, and to determine if participating in specific tasks, such as actively reaching with a foot to touch a toy or actively taking steps on a treadmill from 3 to 9 months of age, increases selective control. IMPACT: Potential for earlier identification of cerebral palsy and informs early intervention strategies. PI: Barbara Sargent, PhD, PT, PCS. Supported by the National Institutes of Health K12, the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research, and the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy.

Increasing selective hip-knee control of infants at high risk for cerebral palsy: a feasibility study

Infants at high risk for cerebral palsy have reduced selective control. We developed a 6-week in-home intervention to encourage selective hip-knee control. It uses a Microsoft Kinect™ to activate an infant mobile based on specific kicking actions. The purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility of the intervention, if infants learn the task, and if infants increase selective hip-knee control when participating in the task. IMPACT: Informs early intervention strategies.  PI: Barbara Sargent, PhD, PT, PCS. Supported by the National Institutes of Health K12, the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy, the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC CTSI) Mentored Research Career Development Program, the SC CTSI Research Grant Program, and the James H. Zumberge Faculty Research and Innovation Fund at the University of Southern California.

Exploratory learning to encourage selective hip-knee control of infants born full-term and preterm

Infants born very preterm are at high risk for motor impairments and increased risk for cerebral palsy. We redesigned the mobile task to motivate more selective hip-knee control by requiring infants to lift their feet progressively higher to activate the mobile. The purpose of this study is to determine if infants learn the task, if infants increase selective hip-knee control when participating in the task, and the strategies used to learn the task. IMPACT: Informs early intervention strategies. PI: Jeongah (Jane) Kim, MS, PT (Korea), PhD student. Supported by the National Institutes of Health K12 and the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy.