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Friday, 5 June, 1998, 01:28 GMT 02:28 UK
Physiotherapy helps 'clumsy' children
School
Dyspraxia affects one in 10, but early intervention can help
Physiotherapy can improve the coordination of children with dyspraxia by up to 97%, according to new research.

A Chartered Society of Physiotherapy study of 60 children with dyspraxia - also known as clumsy child syndrome - showed that, after five months of physiotherapy, their coordination and muscle strength had improved by between 47 and 97%.

Dyspraxia, whose symptoms include coordination problems, poor body awareness, bad short-term memory and difficulties in reading and writing, affects one in 10 people.

Men

Seventy per cent of those affected are men and the incidence in the prison population is said to be six times higher than national levels.

Children involved in the tests, all aged between four and 14, had weekly physiotherapy sessions over eight weeks. These involved exercises to strengthen their muscles and games to increase their coordination skills.

The children were also given intensive daily programmes to follow at home.

Self-confident

In addition to improvements in coordination, the children also appeared to be more self-confident and better able to tackle school work.

One of the researchers, Michele Lee, said: "These are remarkable results. The link between dyspraxia, poor self-esteem and later social problems is important and generally goes unrecognised by the public."

She added that early intervention by physiotherapists could avoid more expensive treatment later in life.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy wants the government to begin a pre-school screening programme for dyspraxia.

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