Do the effects of Karate training on the motor, cognitive and psychosocial wellbeing of typical children provide...

 Carmel Levi1, Dr. Michal Elboim-Gabyzon2

1 A physical therapy student, at the Physical Therapy Department, Faculty of Social Welfare & Health Sciences, University of Haifa
2 Faculty member, at the Physical Therapy Department, Faculty of Social Welfare & Health Sciences, University of Haifa
Introduction: Karate is a form of martial arts used today also as an exercise technique to enhance physical and mental wellbeing. There is an increased interest in the health benefits of Karate in the Western world, as evidenced by the research on the use of Karate for treating adults and children. However, no systematic review has been published on the effects of Karate practice among children. Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder, leading to motor and psychosocial difficulties. The assumption underlying this study was that the impairments that characterize children with DCD are largely analogous to areas in which Karate practice has the potential to serve as a therapeutic tool.
Aim: To provide a systematic review of the effects of Karate practice on the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social wellbeing of children, and to consider how these effects correspond to the known DCD-related deficits in children.
Methods: A systematic review of the literature published between 1995 and 2019 was conducted. The following databases were searched: google scholar, PubMed, PEDro. CINAHL, using the following keywords: developmental coordination disorder; DCD, children, karate, martial arts, therapeutic, physiotherapy, physical therapy, fitness, health, balance, postural control, and motor skills. The following data were extracted from each article: publication year, participants’ age and their medical diagnosis, study design, type of intervention, assessment tools, and results. Each article was graded in accordance with the PEDro scale.

Results: A total of 36 studies were identified, of which 16 were eligible for inclusion Outcome measures were divided into motor, cognitive, and behavioral measures. The research methodology included questionnaires, physical, cognitive, and functional tests.

The scores on the PEDro scale ranged from 2-5 out of 10, with a grade 10 representing the highest methodological level. In all studies, karate practice was found to have positive effects on at least one measure.

Conclusions: Karate training can improve physical, cognitive, and social functioning in children. As these areas of improvement address the motor deficiencies and psychosocial difficulties identified in children with DCD, these findings may provide justification for incorporating Karate practice as a treatment for children with DCD. Future studies at a higher methodological level implemented specifically with children diagnosed with DCD are necessary to validate these findings.
Keywords: Karate, children, developmental coordination disorder, martial arts,
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