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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1987 Aug;68(8):518-22.

Ambulation in the adolescent with myelomeningocele. I: Early childhood predictors.


Birth records identified 192 children with myelomeningocele born in Minnesota in the years 1966-1970. In 1981 current ambulation, neurologic level, and early motor achievement were determined in 77 of the surviving 80 children by chart review and questionnaire. Of these 77, 20 were not walking at all, one was walking only in therapy, and the remaining 56 were community ambulators (16 of these occasionally used wheelchairs). The actual distance walked daily varied from 100 to 5,000 meters in this group, with 19 of these community ambulators never walking as far as around a block. Five children never walked, 16 had stopped walking by 1981, and another six, although still walking, were doing less than they had previously. In 20 of the 22 who showed a decrease in total walking between the ages of ten and 15, the beginning of the decline was associated with a period of immobilization, demonstrating the potentially adverse effects of immobilization in these children. The ability to walk outdoors independently and to use a wheelchair by age seven predicted ambulation as an adolescent correctly for 87% of the children. In contrast, neurologic level predicted adolescent mobility correctly for only 71%.

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