Friday, 9 April 2010

Two small-scale empirical investigations

North America and South Africa

Two small and very different empirical studies have bubbled to the surface of the Internet over the course of the Easter break.

From the United States

Judit Roth-Familiant presents what looks to be slides from  a conference presentation made in 2004, being the results of a survey of the work of CE centres in North America. More detailed survey data are available from Judit on request. The report is now six years old but it may have value as a historical document in tracing the path of developments on that continent.

More dynamically, Judit concluded her presentation by recommending follow-up studies on a three- or five-year basis, to chart changes. I do not know whether this has been done but it would be most interesting to see the results if it has.

Roth-Familiant, J. (2004) Characteristics of Conductive Education pograms in North America

From the Netherlands

From the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Utrecht comes a formal, comparative outcome study, part of a growing body of information from the project at Sizanani Children's Home in South Africa. The study was carried out as a (presumably joint) masterate dissertation.

Vos, R.V., van Westrhenen, N. (2010) The evaluation of the Conductive Education program and the implementation of a cognitive stimulation program in a home for children with developmental disabilities in a rural area of South Africa, Masterate Dissertation, University of Utrecht.

Characteristically for evaluations carried out within this paradigm, results were inconclusive:

Introduction: A Conductive Education (CE) program and a Cognitive Stimulation (CS) program were implemented in Sizanani Children’s Home, a residential facility in South Africa for children and young adults with mental and physical disabilities, most of them diagnosed as cerebral palsy. The effect of one year CE on the development of functional skills and the effect of three months CS on play abilities were evaluated.
Methods: The CE program included 39 participants in the age of 8 to 33 years, whereas the CS program included 18 participants in the age of 8 to 30 years. Gross motor functioning was assessed with the Gross Motor Functioning Classification System(GMFCS), whereas the functional skills were assessed with either the Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory (PEDI) or the Goal Attainment Scale (GAS) and with the Functional Motor Assessment Scale (FMAS) and the Level of intervention Observation Instrument (LOI). For the CS program the Play Observation Scale (POS) was developed to measure play abilities. The CS program had two experimental conditions; one with and one without social interaction, in addition to a control condition.
Results: One year of CE showed an improvement in the functional motor abilities of the participants measured with the GAS and FMAS. According to the PEDI, functional skills only improved in Caregiver Assistance in the Self-care scale, whereas the LOI showed an improvement in functional skills in dressing. No relation was found between the change in functional skills measured with the FMAS and the LOI and the level of gross motor functioning measured with the GMFCS. The CS program resulted in a non-significant improvement of the play abilities of the participants in the two experimental conditions.
Conclusion: The results show that continuation of the CE program is beneficial for the functional skills of the children and young adults of Sizanani Children’s Home. The effectiveness of the CS program at a longer term has to be awaited.

The complete dissertation is available on line and in English at:

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