Unlike gross motor skills, fine motor skills are the small movement of fingers, hands and wrists. Fine motor skills include things like holding small items, buttoning shirts, cutting with scissors, keyboarding, eating and writing. These tasks require strength and coordination of small muscles. Fine motor skills are critical to everyday activities. The hands are needed to dress and to feed ourselves. And for younger children, the development of fine motor skills is needed to build on other functions. If a child does not achieve these milestones, it can affect learning, performance and self-esteem.
There are many reasons why fine motor skills may be lacking, such as:
- Muscle weakness
- Poor core strength
- Difficulty with motoric separation
- Low tone
- Incomplete use of proximal joints
- Inadequate synthesis skills
- Poor trunk stability
A physical therapist can help with both gross motor skills and fine motor skills with a specific physical therapy program. A physical therapist will evaluate you or your child to determine whether there is a developmental delay or injury. The goal is to build the skills needed to perform everyday tasks in the classroom at home or at work. In addition to evaluation, a physical therapist may guide one on how to move, hold a pencil, do specific exercises to enhance fine motor skills.
It is not that uncommon for children to have a developmental delay with fine motor skills. Although a physical therapist is trained to treat a wide variety of conditions, it’s wise to choose one who is experienced in treating kids with development delay. It’s also wise to choose a physical therapist who has completed a residency in pediatric physical therapy. You can use the online tool at the American Physical Therapy Association to find a physical therapist with specific clinical expertise. You can also get recommendations from health care providers.
A physical therapist will teach parents what they can do to help enhance their child’s fine motor skills. Specifically, the therapist will give advice on the types of activities and amount of activities to do during the day at home to reach that milestone. Keep in mind that longer that you wait for treatment, the further your child will fall behind. There are times that a physical therapist may work in coordination with an occupational therapist for the best outcome for your child. Just be sure to seek treatment at the first sign of trouble.
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