Here is something to consider when working with children who have neurological disorders. A recent thesis study revealed that children in wheelchairs with neurological disorders have different skin temperatures than in children without neurological disorders. The study showed that in children with neurological disorders the temperature of the feet was three degrees colder and the hands were two degrees colder. In addition, the children with the colder extremities also exhibited difficulties with constipation, sleeping and pain. The author comments on additional problems with balance when the feet are cold.
This press release was very interesting to me. Based on my own experiences, when my hands and feet are cold it can make me very distracted. The sensory input and message to my brain will sometimes overpower my focus or concentration on an activity. I will incessantly complain that "I am freezing, my toes are going to fall off, I can not feel my fingers, blah, blah, blah". With colds hands it is very difficult to manipulate items. I have seen myself shaking from the cold hands and being unable to put a key in to start a car. And I have an intact sensory system.
Now think of children with compromised sensory systems. This is one more aspect of the human body to explore when observing and evaluating function in children. How are fine motor and gross motor skills effected by changes in the temperature of the extremities of the body? How can we help children with this information? It would be very interesting to test how changes in skin temperature effects motor skills and attention skills... Anyone up for some research?
Reference: Eureka Alert Brain-damaged Children Often Hanve Cold Feet. Retreived from the web on 10/20/09 at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-10/uog-bco101909.php#