The link between motor impairment level and motor imagery ability in children with developmental coordination disorder
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The present study examined motor imagery ability in children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD). Specifically, it explored whether children with varying degrees of motor impairment differed in their ability to perform motor imagery tasks. Fourty-two children scoring below the 15th percentile on the Movement ABC were split into two groups - DCD severe (DCD-S), scoring on or below the 5th percentile, and DCD mild (DCD-M), scoring from the 6th to 15th percentiles - and compared to 21 age matched controls. Participants performed two motor imagery tasks - hand (performed without and with specific imagery instructions) and whole-body rotation. The results demonstrated that children in the DCD-S group had a generalized motor imagery deficit in that they were less accurate across tasks than controls (and the DCD-M group on the hand task) and showed little benefit when given specific imagery instructions. The DCD-M group appeared capable of performing simpler motor imagery transformations, but were less successful as task complexity increased. Unlike the DCD-S group, the DCD-M group did show some benefit from specific imagery instructions with increases in accuracy on the hand task. These results suggest that a motor imagery deficit does exist in many children with DCD but that its presentation can vary - factors such as the individual child's level of motor impairment and task complexity appear to be linked to the profile of deficits observed, which could explain the inconsistent findings of previous studies. Although this study lends support to the theory that a deficit in internal modeling is an underlying problem for children with DCD, still more research is required to develop the theory further.
Human Movement Science