Volcanoes in Iceland: How it all started with SINDA
In this blog post, Mac Keith Press author, Mijna Hadders-Algra reflects on how her upcoming book, SINDA: Standardized Infant NeuroDevelopmental Assessment was conceived and how an Icelandic Volcano played a pivoted role.
In spring 2010 an international workshop on the Infant Neurological Assessment was planned in Groningen, the Netherlands. Front runners in the field of developmental neurology were invited from many countries, including myself. They were experts who used the existing infant assessments, such as the Hammersmith Infant Neurological Examination or the examinations according to Amiel-Tison and Touwen. The workshop was organized as a preconference event of the international meeting on early intervention “Impact of Intervention”.
The reason for the workshop was the increasing awareness of clinicians that the existing neurological scales mainly addressed muscle tone and reactions, whereas the general movement assessment had taught the field how important the quality of spontaneous movements is. Thus, it was generally felt that a new assessment tool was needed.
The workshop was well prepared, so that the participants knew which aspects of the infant exam they had to present and discuss. But then something unexpected happened: the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted.
All air traffic to and within Europe was cancelled. For the workshop this meant that only the German participants were able to get to Groningen – they travelled by train. Though we were reduced in number, this did not dampen our spirits! The ‘left-over’ participants from Germany and the Netherlands decided to hold a mini-workshop. It became clear that the development of a new assessment tool would take much time and that it would be a project that would not easily receive funding. The colleagues who had not been in Groningen decided to hop off the project.
But the German-Dutch participants of the mini-workshop had been so inspired, that they continued the development of a new infant neurodevelopmental assessment. Our group embarked on a non-funded weekend project, in which the four members (Uta Tacke, Heike Philippi, Joachim Pietz and myself) met about twice a year and exchanged many emails and documents during the intervals. Gradually the Standardized Infant NeuroDevelopmental Assessment (SINDA) emerged. SINDA’s three scales, the neurological, developmental and socio-emotional scale, were clinically tested. Next SINDA was implemented in clinical practice and normative data were collected. SINDA turned out to be an instrument that is quick and easy to apply, is reliable and is a very good instrument assisting prediction of high risk of neurodevelopmental disorders and parental counseling. No expensive toolkit is required.
And so here we are! The English language version of SINDA will be published by Mac Keith Press very shortly and it’s all thanks to great and steadfast collaboration, some hard work and (at least in part) to the eruption of an Icelandic volcano.
Mijna Hadders-Algra March 2022
Mijna Hadders-Algra is professor of Developmental Neurology. Her research focuses on 1) early detection of developmental disabilities, 2) early intervention, 3) significance of minor neurological dysfunction (MND) in children with DCD, learning- and behavioural disorders, 4) pathophysiology of motor impairment in children with cerebral palsy or DCD.