Introduction: Although the survival rate of infants born preterm has increased, the prevalence of developmental problems and motor disorders among this population of infants remains the same. This study investigated the effect of physical activity programs in and out of water on motor performance and neuromuscular development of infants born preterm and had induced immobility by mechanical ventilation.Methods: This study was carried out in Al-Zahra hospital, Tabriz. 76 premature infants were randomly assigned into four groups. One group received daily passive range of motion to all extremities based on the Moyer-Mileur protocol. Hydrotherapy group received exercises for shoulders and pelvic area in water every other day. A combination group received physical activity programs in and out of water on alternating days. Infants in a containment group were held in a fetal position.
Duration of study was two weeks ‘from 32 through 33 weeks post menstrual age (PMA). Motor outcomes were measured by the Test of Infant Motor Performance. Neuromuscular developmental was assessed by New Ballard scale and leg recoil and Ankle dorsiflexion items from Dubowitz scale. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 13.Results: TIMP and neuromuscular scores improved in all groups. Motor performance did not differ between groups at 34 weeks PMA. Postural tone of leg recoil was significantly higher in physical activity groups post intervention.Conclusion: Physical activities and containment didn’t have different effects on motor performance in infants born preterm. Leg recoil of neuromuscular development items was affected by physical activity programs.