Neuroimaging and quality of life of children with developmental coordination disorder

Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) affects six to 15 per cent of children aged five to 11. In BC, up to 48,000 of children may meet the diagnostic criteria for DCD. Children with DCD have significant motor coordination difficulties that interfere with their academic achievement and/or activities of daily living. While it was once believed that children with DCD would outgrow their motor difficulties, research suggests that these difficulties persist into adolescence and adulthood. Individuals with DCD tend to avoid social and physical activities, are at higher risk for obesity and coronary vascular disease, and experience social and emotional difficulties. There is some suggestion that DCD is related to differences in brain development, but this has yet to be confirmed. No studies have been conducted to determine how the brains of children with DCD differ from those of typically developing children, and few studies have explored the quality of life of children with this disorder. Jill Zwicker is exploring the neurobiological explanations for children with DCD, and studying how DCD impacts their quality of life. She is examining patterns of brain activation of children with and without DCD using neuroimaging techniques to determine differences in brain anatomy and activation during a fine-motor task. Zwicker will also be interviewing school-age children with DCD to determine how the disorder affects their quality of life. Zwicker’s findings will be used to educate physicians and therapists in BC and beyond regarding DCD. In the longer term, these efforts will lead to the development of scientifically grounded rehabilitation approaches specifically targeted towards enhancing brain activity, function and quality of life for children with DCD.