Early stimulation can prevent developmental delays
Brain plasticity is defines as the capacity the brains has to create new connections between neurons, allowing an increase in stimuli responses, though our number of neurons remain unvarying. To put it simply, our nervous system changes with environment interaction.
During childhood (1 to 3 years of age) is when the most plasticity is showed in the brain where the processes of synapsis or connection between nervous cells is formed, allowing a complex net of electrical circuits linkage. It is said that between 0 and 2 years old, the cerebral activity duplicate that of an adult. That’s why it is recommended to make use of the mental and physical capacities of children between 1 and 3 years old. The purpose is to have the baby develop his thought and personality structure through activities and techniques.
During that same range, it is necessary to identify any sign of developmental delay and do pertinent checkups. The most evident manifestations of delay on psychomotor development during an early age is that, when growing, kids remain at a small height for their age; nonetheless, this is only an external sign, but there are other kind of consequences, like:
- Cognitive delays.
- Learning difficulties.
- Language difficulties.
- Difficulties on how the world is perceived.
- School performance.
- Productivity on adulthood.
- Emotional control and social adaptation.
These negative factors diminish opportunities on the future life of the kid because these are irreversible and often are transmitted from generation to generation. With this, the process becomes a vicious circle of growth and development deficit on the long run, which has a big impact in society.
According to data from the Ministry of Education (MINEDU), a 5 year old kid’s attention is about 75%; between 4 and 5, 45% are incorporated to the system; meanwhile children from 0 to 2 years old only have an attention coverage of 2.5% (MINEDU, 2007; INEI/UNICEF, 2011). The Health Sector, attend kids from 0 to 3 years old with an integral attention package; and early stimulation is within this educative package according to RMN 292-2006-Minsa (DIRESA, 2005). However, there is no registry, and in practice, it is given to children younger than 1 year old and only when there are psychomotor developmental problems.
The study about early stimulation started more than 50 years ago. With this, early stimulation programs have been developed, consisting of compound exercises, games, and other activities given to children repetitively on their first years of age, with the purpose of maximizing their development, physical, emotional, social, and learning capacities. To mention a few:
- The kid develops with movement.
- The kid develops big movements like crawling, standing, walking, and running.
- The kid develops small movements like graving objects with fingers, painting, and drawing.
- Since birth, the kid sees, hears, and perceive things around him/her.
- This area is related with the development of senses and thinking.
- The kid develops thought, the capacity to reason, paying attention, and following instructions.
- The main function of language is communication between individuals.
- The kid develops the first forms of language (baby like sounds).
- Subsequently, the kid develops proper speech and writing.
This area is related with emotion and affection development.
This allows the kid to establish good relations with his/her parents and other people around him/her.
Develops trust in him/her and helps develop personality.
Early stimulation is addressed to patients with pre-, peri-, and post-natal risk factors, normal patients being born to 6 years of age, and kids with encephalic neurological damage.
Various researches sustain the relevance that early stimulation programs have on children development. An experimental study performed in 2011 with the purpose of determining the importance of early stimulation in children from 0 to 5 years old attending pediatric consultation at the General Puyo Hospital, a model of stimulation validated by the Vida’s Institution since 7 years ago; it was found that after 6 months of the program’s application, the experimental group had an increase of 3,728 (approximately 4 months) of progress of age in comparison with their chronological age; there was a noticeable percentage increase in all areas and with a bigger predominance on the motor area.
The effectiveness of early stimulation programs is based on the narrow interaction of multidisciplinary teams, including family and communities. The positive outcomes of early stimulation on childhood development are evident. A person well developed physically, mentally, and socially (through early stimulation) will have better chances to face life than a person that was not stimulated.
Reviewers: Cassandra Saldaña Pineda (Knowledge Management Unit), Brenda Giselle Alvarez Rodriguez, and Perla Karime Olais Vega (Public Health Research Unit).
- Article: “Efectividad del programa de estimulación temprana en el Desarrollo psicomotor de niños de 0 a 3 años”. Revista “Ciencia y Tecnología”, Escuela de Postgrado – UNT, Vol.9 Nº 4/2013.
- Guía de estimulación temprana para el facilitador. Adra Perú. Agosto 2009.
- Article: “La estimulación temprana”. Revista Mexicana de Medicina Física y Rehabilitación. 14 N 2-4/ Abril-Diciembre 2002.