To be able to make accurate movements is such a natural part of our daily activities that we rarely think of the many acts we perform during development in order to be integrated into social life. Sensory-motor, cognitive, language, emotional, social and perceptual competence are all prerequisites for entry, participation and acceptance into one’s peer group. Children who lack such skills or means often underachieve in their environment, and are frequently socially isolated.
From an early start, activity begins in all planes of movement allowing the child to experience the environment in a three dimensional manner. The quality of early movements is essential because they are the foundation for establishing future movements and skill sets, thereby determining the availability of more complex and variable solutions to problem solving.
Physiotherapy is recommended for those children whose motor abilities are delayed for their age, affecting their ability to function optimally in activities of daily living and causing difficulty with school participation (academically, socially or physically). Physiotherapy addresses the gross motor component of development. Gross motor ability forms the foundation for all other developmental processes.
Good gross motor control is necessary for the development of both fine motor and visual skills. It also impacts on a child’s endurance levels, work speed, confidence and ability to concentrate and focus. Any child that is not keeping up with his peers on a gross motor level should be checked for potential difficulties.
Often, difficulties may become apparent during later years as the skills, volume and speed of work increases in the higher grades. If a child is not showing appropriate physical ability for his/her age, or is showing more than 3 of the following signs and symptoms, a referral to an physiotherapist is recommended.
Not reaching age-appropriate milestones in time e.g. sat late, can’t hop, can’t stand on one leg
Moves inefficiently with increased effort and decreased smoothness or coordination of movement
Movements appear stiff, jerky or uncoordinated
Poor variety of movement patterns or posture (always sits in the same way, can’t adapt activity if something changes unexpectedly)
Double jointed (more flexible than normal)
Clumsy (frequently falls, trips over own feet, bruising from bumping into things often)
Heavy (poor jumping height, slaps feet on ground when running)