Monday, February 21, 2011

Overflow Movements: A Low-Tech Diagnostic Tool for ADHD and Impulsivity

Our practice is often approached by companies touting the latest in high-tech “neuroscience-based” machines designed to help diagnose ADHD and impulsivity. Some of these devices have shown promise in limited studies, but most are relatively untested and lack sufficient clinical evidence to support their widespread adoption. While we certainly maintain hope that research will yield better and better assistive technology for the clinical diagnosis and treatment of learning-related issues, it is refreshing to read about new research which supports the efficacy of a low-tech procedure we have always used in our assessment.

An article last week in the journal Neurology about new research from the highly respected Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD demonstrates the immense diagnostic value of “overflow movements.” Overflow movements (sometimes called mirror movements) refer to a phenomenon where a child is asked to perform a complex series of finger movements using one hand, and they seem to perform the same movements on their other hand automatically. According to this new research, the presence of overflow movements strongly correlates with general impulsivity. Understanding hand movement symptoms can offer insights on symptom severity, and can aid in the planning of treatments. This is further evidence that one must look at ADHD, or any academic problem, in a comprehensive manner.

Read more about the study here and here.

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