The Hotchkiss Brain Institute
Healthy Brains for Better Lives
Professor, University of Calgary
Movement is something that most of us take for granted. Our first movements take place in utero and over the course of our life we produce millions of movements. Movement allows us to meet our basic needs, to communicate and to learn. For most individuals, movement develops into an automatic process that does not demand conscious effort. It is only when movement is impaired in some manner that the extreme importance of motor competency comes to the fore. Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a developmental disorder. Children with DCD manifest motor deficits in virtually every aspect of motor functioning. The estimated prevalence of DCD is 6-10% in school aged children. Motor impairments similar to those displayed by children with DCD are also present in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and reading disability (RD). No studies have investigated the underlying heritability and brain basis of DCD. Dr. Dewey is currently leading a research project, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research that will examine the heritability of developmental motor disorders in children diagnosed with DCD only, ADHD only, RD only, and DCD and co-occurring ADHD and/or RD. It will also carefully characterize these children by examining their brain structures, cognitive functions and motor behaviours. The long term goal of this research is to identify the genes responsible for DCD with the hope of developing new insights and approaches to the identification and treatment of individuals with DCD.
In addition to this research, she is also involved in investigations of the neuropsychological outcomes of various groups of children exposed to adverse events in utero and perinatally, such as children with very low birth weight; the impact of maternal nutrient status during pregnancy on maternal health and child development; psychosocial outcomes of children with chronic conditions (e.g. diabetes, autism, very low birth weigth, developmental coordination disorder) stress in parents of children with chronic conditions (e.g. very low birth weight, neuromuscular disorders, autism); and physical activity in preschool aged children and their families.