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CSU Seeks to Better Train Practitioners in Assessing Infant Health

Assessing Infant Health

The School of Health Sciences at Cleveland State University, in collaboration with the General Movements Trust, hosted the basic and advanced certification courses on Prechtl’s General Movements Assessment (GMA). The GMA has been shown to be particularly effective in identifying physical and behavioral anomalies, called neurobehavioral sequelae, in infants less than 5 months post-term age.

“Screening for neurobehavioral sequelae is paramount for infants with detectable risks such as preterm birth, atypical intrauterine growth, encephalopathy, genetic abnormalities and history of seizures,” notes Madalynn Wendland, clinical associate professor of physical therapy at CSU and coordinator of the program. “Prechtl’s General Movements Assessment allows practitioners to better assess infants and can be used to predict conditions such as cerebral palsy, genetic syndromes, autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities.”

The certification program was offered last summer to over 25 healthcare professionals from across the country. Registrants mastered the clinical skills to assess an infant’s spontaneously generated movements. The course consisted of lessons, demonstrations and discussions of video-recordings.

“Taking the advanced General Movements course allowed me to expand my skill set, collaborate with colleagues and discuss new ideas with leading experts in the field,” says Megan Iammarino, a graduate of CSU’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy program, who currently serves as a research physical therapist with the Center for Gene Therapy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the program and now feel confident in my skills and ability to identify and classify different movements according to GMA standards,” adds Geri Duran, an occupational therapist from New Mexico.

Wendland organized the course along with noted GMA experts Andrea Guzzetta, head of the Stella Maris Infant Lab for Early Intervention (SMILE) and an associate professor of medicine at University of Pisa, and Colleen Peyton, assistant professor of physical therapy and human movement sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Wendland plans to continue to educate others and help facilitate the implementation of this evidence-based tool here in Northeast Ohio and across the nation.