MSc Student Kamaldeep Gill Wins CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship – Masters Award

Congratulations to Kamaldeep Gill, who has won a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Canada Graduate Scholarship at the Masters level. Kamaldeep, who is supervised by Dr. Jill Zwicker, is studying the brain networks and pathways that underly motor difficulties in children with both Developmental Coordination Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Read more about her project below. Congratulations, Kamal!


Neural Basis of Motor Deficits in Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) and co-occurring Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects 5-6% of school aged children; this is >400,000 Canadian children. DCD significantly impacts a child’s ability to learn motor skills and to perform everyday activities such as getting dressed, printing, and playing sports. Motor skills deficits associated with DCD ultimately impair academic performance, self-care skills, leisure activities, and play skill. DCD is also associated with secondary psychosocial difficulties such as, poor self-esteem and decreased participation in physical and social activities. Recent studies have identified that up to half of the children with DCD will have co-occurring attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). DCD and ADHD are chronic health conditions that interfere with an individual’s function and quality of life.

The cause of DCD is unknown and the neural basis is not well understood, making it difficult to understand why children with DCD struggle with motor skills and the intervention course that should be taken to optimize function. To change the negative trajectory of children with DCD, we need a better understanding of the neural basis of DCD through brain imaging research. In this study, we will use MRI to characterize structural brain differences in children with DCD+/- ADHD and typically-developing children. This study is the first of its kind to examine structural brain differences in children with DCD+/-ADHD, findings will provide clinicians and researchers with a greater understanding of neurological underpinnings of motor difficulties in this population. The next phase of the study will determine if rehabilitation results in structural brain changes and improvements in motor function.