Pretend play ability in preschool-aged children with an acquired brain injury

Aust Occup Ther J. 2021 Jul 26. doi: 10.1111/1440-1630.12755. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: This study compares the self-initiated pretend play abilities of preschool-aged children with an acquired brain injury, with the self-initiated pretend play ability of their neurotypical peers.

METHOD: A non-experimental group comparison was conducted between 22 preschool-aged neurotypical children (M = 52.8 months, SD = 7.1 months) and 21 children with an acquired brain injury (ABI, M = 50.5 months, SD = 11.9 months), who had been discharged from inpatient rehabilitation and who were able to engage in a play session. The children were assessed individually using the Child-Initiated Pretend Play Assessment (ChIPPA).

RESULTS: The children with an ABI had significantly lower scores in pretend play ability than their neurotypical peers as measured by the percentage of elaborate play actions in both the conventional (P < .000) and symbolic (P < .000) sections of the ChIPPA, as well as the number of object substitutions (P < .000). The children with an ABI completed significantly less of the play time required compared with their neurotypical peers (P = .001); 66% could not play for the required time. There was no significant difference in the ChIPPA scores of the children with an ABI injured before and after the age of 18 months, nor between children with a severe or moderate injury.

CONCLUSION: The quality and the quantity of pretend play of preschool-aged children with an ABI are significantly below that of their neurotypical peers. Assessment of pretend play ability and direct intervention in ABI rehabilitation by occupational therapists is essential to enable children with an ABI to participate in pretend play and garner the developmental benefit this affords.

PMID:34312891 | DOI:10.1111/1440-1630.12755

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