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Gross Motor Skills Development

Gross motor skills involve the body’s large arm, leg and torso muscles for major body movement, such as walking, maintaining balance, coordination and reaching. They also require motor planning—the ability to think through and act upon a plan for motion. A child with poor motor planning may have the strength and muscle tone to climb a ladder, but be unable to place feet in the right spot and in the right order to reach the top. 

Gross motor skills connect to actions necessary for daily living, such as getting out of bed or climbing stairs. They are needed for academic success, partially due to the order and sequencing of development—that is, the way new skills build on previous ones and small muscles develop after large ones.

Unlike fine motor skills—​the ability to use hands and feet for complex, small muscle activities, such as writing and drawing or standing on toes—gross motor skills are important for play, sports and fitness. Despite similarities, gross and fine motor skills are controlled by different parts of the brain. 

Acquiring gross motor skills is key to children participating in activities and achieving age-appropriate developmental milestones.

Treatment can include: 

    • Therapeutic exercise
    • Muscle re-education and strengthening
    • Balance and coordination
    • Strength, mobility and range of motion with use of hands

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