The ESMT program is unique in that it has fully documented all participants’ skills at program entry and then at 6 month intervals. Motor skill progress is serially measured using a quantitative scale (ESMT scale). Changes in non-motor functions are evaluated using a parent perception questionnaire. Changes in the child, observed by parents at the gym, at home, at school and in the local community are recorded to determine if improvements are generalized to everyday life.
In 2011, the ESMT Program received a grant from the provincial government to carry out a narrative review of literature and a pilot data study on the ESMT program. The Pilot Study of ESMT undertaken over six months suggests impressive improvements across multiple domains of neurological functioning, beyond motor skills, including self-esteem, mood and emotional stability, attention control, behaviour and communication. More information can be found under the link “Motor Interventions for Children and Adolescents with Developmental Disabilities”.
Every child in the research cohort improved in skills and 100% of the parents felt that the program benefited their child and that the effects of the program were beneficial outside of the gym. An even more powerful finding was that 80% of the parents surveyed felt that the program benefited their life at home. Moreover, the improvements range from an increase in motor skill development shown in Occupational Therapist reports to complete integration into typical class environments. In fact, most recently, a student who began the program as non-verbal with extensive behavioral challenges is now verbal and integrated into a pre-competitive gymnastics class.
In November 2012, the results of the study attracted the interest of clinical scientists at the University of British Columbia. The University of Oklahoma has also shown interest. Dr. Jean-Paul Collet, who is a senior clinical researcher, has offered to be the primary supervisor involved in the research aimed at evaluation of the ESMT programs out-comes. Since November 2012, a PhD candidacy in Experimental Medicine has been confirmed for September 2013, and this research team has expanded to include Dr. Anton Miller (Developmental Pediatrician), Dr. William McKillen (UBC Medical Anthropologist), Dr. Rob Wishart (Developmental Pediatrician), Dr. Louise Massé (Faculty of Medicine UBC), and Dr. Annette Majnemer (Director and Associate Dean, School of Physical/Occupational Therapy at McGill Univerisity).
Our next steps will be publish the 2011 retrospective study. It is currently submitted for publication. The results not only showed improvements at a motor level, but also aspect of home and family life. We are currently funded by NVN to conduct a 2-year prospective evidenced-based research to evaluate our motor scale and parent perceived improvements at home and school. We also strive to layer the existing ESMT program with new research findings on activity and brain development.
The study requires several parts including two to three motor scale evaluations/assessments, parent questionnaires, and an optional interview or group discussion about the personal experiences in the ESMT program and its impact on the child.
For more information, please see the attached document below.