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Pediatrics – Gross Motor Delay

Physical therapy helps children with atypical or delayed motor skills reach their full potential. Physical therapists use a combination of therapy intervention and play to help children develop age appropriate skills such as sitting, crawling, walking, running, jumping, catching and throwing. The ability to participate in these activities is imperative to the physical, mental, social and emotional development of children. Motor activity promotes cognitive development, verbalization and communication skills, hand-eye-coordination, visual-motor coordination, and motivation to explore their environment. Children who are unable to navigate their surroundings effectively commonly develop difficulties in other developmental areas.

Gross motor delays can occur as a result of another developmental complication or can occur as an independent condition. Suspected gross motor delay is commonly identified by the child’s pediatrician, school teacher or day care provider. A child’s gross motor skills are assessed during a physical therapy evaluation using one of many standardized tests. The scoring of the standardized tests compare the child’s results to those of peers his/her age. Physical therapists use these scores to determine if the child is appropriate for physical therapy services, if and how much of a delay is present and as a marker to track progress during the course of therapy.

Physical therapy is an integral part of the multidisciplinary services that help children with developmental delay reach their full potential. It is important for children to have the functional capability to explore their environment and participate in age appropriate activities with their peers. Early intervention often promotes greater success in deterring or limiting gross motor delay.

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