The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, USA
Title: Robotic and sensor technology: Can we change brain development and functional outcomes in young children with brain insults?
Thubi H.A. Kolobe is the Jill Pitman Jones professor of physical therapy in the Department of Rehabilitation Science at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Her research in early identification of children with or at risk for disabilities, efficacy of robotics in the early mobility of young infants, cultural and environmental influences on development, and measurement has been funded by foundations and federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health. She is a co-developer of the Test of Infant Motor Performance for preterm infants, a norm-referenced test that is used worldwide and has been translated into several languages. Dr. Kolobe has served as chair of the Research Committee of the Section on Pediatrics, chaired a task force to develop a research agenda for the American Physical Therapy Association's Section on Pediatrics, served on a recent task force to revise the research agenda for the American Physical Therapy Association, and has been appointed to serve on the Scientific Review Committee for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health. Dr. Kolobe has extensive clinical experience in pediatrics and community-based interventions. Over the past 30 years, her roles in this area have ranged from direct patient care in various settings, clinical education, and staff development, to program consultation. Her consultation roles have focused largely on program evaluation and development for community-based programs that serve children and families with disabilities and on funded undergraduate and graduate training programs. She serves on the Evaluation Committee for the Oklahoma SoonerStart program, a statewide early intervention program funded through the Part C program of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Amendment Act of 2004. She holds a Ph.D. in pediatric physical therapy (with a minor in family therapy) from Hahnemann University.
Brain insults occurring pre-, peri-, post-natally, or during early infancy have lasting negative impact on functional independence. Many of the neuromuscular problems, educational disparities, and societal participation limitations seen in older children and adults can be traced back to infancy. The period of infancy is also associated with dramatic changes in development and high synaptic connections in the brain further compounding the complexity and neurological sequelae following early brain insults. On the other hand, neuroplasticity research suggests that this period also offers the best opportunity for introducing targeted interventions that are likely to optimize development. The challenge for neurologists and rehabilitation professionals worldwide has been in determining or developing interventions that are effective, can be provided in the first year of life, and can yield sustainable results (dosing). This presentation will discuss findings from novel robotic and sensor technologies aimed at preventing learned non-use, promoting movement exploration, and improving cognition and mobility in infants and toddlers with brain insult. The presentation will also focus on the differential effects of reinforcement and error-based movement learning in this population, including neural correlates, and implications for dosing.