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March 1986

Infant Stimulation Programs

Arch Neurol. 1986;43(3):283. doi:10.1001/archneur.1986.00520030069019

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Nothing evokes more painful empathy than an impaired infant, inspiring feelings of innocence, unfairness, and helplessness. It is natural that caring physicians should emphasize the comfort and practical guidance that infant stimulation programs provide to parents and child; both of the contributors to this controversy do so. However, they also acknowledge, to different degrees, that scant data sustain the objective value of these programs as neurologic therapy.

While caring, support, and practical advice should be part of the management of all infants, a stimulation program should not become a ritualistic substitute for scientific evaluation. The magnitude of the problem is such that properly controlled studies, where a specific stimulation program is the only variable, are not only desirable but feasible.

The widespread and well-intentioned, but unproven, use of stimulation programs can only delay the time when more effective therapies can be found through a systematic search; or if no

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