Clumsy teenagers under the microscope in bone health study
Almost everyone knows one—that person who seems to fall or trip over a lot, and can have trouble with even the simplest of manual tasks.
Perhaps you yourself feel more clumsy than most.
What you might not know is that in some cases this is a condition called developmental coordination disorder (DCD) and it could affect up to 10 per cent of the population.
University of Notre Dame researchers studying WA high school students with developmental coordination disorder have discovered they have poorer bone health than the general population.
The team are investigating if a long-term exercise program known as AMPitup can help to improve the teenagers' bone strength.
Exercise scientist Paola Chivers says developmental coordination disorder is characterised by poor coordination, clumsiness and slow and inaccurate motor skills.
"We describe it as people who have trouble doing basic day-to-day tasks like tying up shoelaces, using cutlery," she says.
"They bump into things a lot, they trip and fall a lot, they tend not to participate in sport because they feel awkward and uncoordinated.
It could be argued that this is normal behaviour for all teenagers but Dr Chivers says people with DCD experience more than the odd fumble that most people experience.
Dr Chivers says it is unclear if people with the disorder have poorer bone strength because they avoid exercise or because of the condition itself.
The researchers hope to find out if long-term participation in an exercise program can have lasting changes after collecting bone density measures from teenagers with motor coordination difficulties over the last three years.
The team is part of a WA collaboration believed to be the first of its kind in Australia in which the University of Notre Dame, Curtin University and UWA work together to study children, teenagers and adults with developmental coordination disorder.
She says for parents, the easiest way to tell if a child might have developmental coordination disorder is that they seem to fall over or struggle with motor skills more compared to a sibling or close friend.
"They may in fact have more [bone] breaks as well," Dr Chivers says.
"There's about a 26 per cent incidence of fractures in our group and within the normal population it's only three to nine [per cent]."
"That's because they probably tend to fall more and when they do fall they're at higher risk of breaks due to their bone density."
This article first appeared on ScienceNetwork Western Australia a science news website based at Scitech.