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Res Dev Disabil. 2012 Nov-Dec;33(6):2080-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2012.06.003. Epub 2012 Jul 13.

Motor skills of children newly diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder prior to and following treatment with stimulant medication.

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  • 1Advanced Pediatric Brain Imaging Research Laboratory, Diagnostic Imaging and Radiology/Fetal and Transitional Medicine, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA.


Motor difficulties are common in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Although preliminary evidence has suggested that methylphenidate can improve the motor skills in children with ADHD and Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), the effect of stimulant medication on motor performance in children newly diagnosed with ADHD with or without motor impairment remains unclear. A cohort study of 49 medication-naïve children (39 male; mean age 8.4±1.3 years) with ADHD was conducted. Children were evaluated using the Movement Assessment Battery for Children and the developmental test of visual motor integration at diagnosis and again three months following daily treatment with a stimulant medication. Motor difficulties were highly present at baseline (73.5%) but resolved in a subset after treatment with stimulant medication, suggesting that their motor difficulties may be attributed in part to their attentional problems. Nevertheless, motor impairment persisted in 55.1% of the sample. The severity of the behavioural symptoms was significantly associated with balance skills in children without motor impairments (r(2)=0.30, p<0.01) and with visual motor integration skills in children with persisting motor difficulties (r(2)=0.27, p<0.01). Attentional difficulties negatively affect the motor skills of children with ADHD. Following the use of stimulant medication, an important subset continued to demonstrate motor difficulties. The improvement in behaviour was insufficient to resolve motor problems and these children should therefore be targeted for rehabilitation services.

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