Spatial, But Not Temporal, Kinematics of Spontaneous Upper Extremity Movements Are Related to Gross and Fine Motor Skill Attainment in Infancy

in Journal of Motor Learning and Development
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  • 1 Department of Physical Therapy, Ohio University, Athens, OH, USA
  • | 2 Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH, USA
  • | 3 Tampa Bay Rays, St. Petersburg, FL, USA
  • | 4 Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA
  • | 5 Center for Biostatistics, Department of Biomedical Informatics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
  • | 6 Department of Physical Therapy, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
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Background: Spontaneous upper extremity movements in infancy provide insight on neuromotor development. Spatiotemporal kinematics have been used to evaluate typical development of reaching, a foundational motor skill in infancy. This study evaluates the relationship between spontaneous upper extremity movements, not elicited by a toy, and motor skill attainment. Methods: N = 12 healthy infants (2–8 months) participated in this longitudinal study (one to four sessions). Motor skills were assessed with the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, 3rd Edition: gross motor subtest (GM) and fine motor subtest. Spontaneous upper extremity movements were collected using 3D motion capture technology. Infants were placed in supine for three to twelve 30-s trials, and their movements were recorded. Repeated measure correlation coefficients (Rmcorr) were used to evaluate relationships between variables. Results: There were significant, moderate, positive relationships between the straight distance from start to end of a movement and (a) fine motor score (Rmcorr = .55, p = .03), (b) GM score (Rmcorr = .63, p = .01), and (c) age (Rmcorr = .56, p = .02). There was a significant, moderate, negative relationship between straightness ratio and GM score (Rmcorr = −.52, p = .047). Discussion: Fine and GM skills are related to the straight distance from start to end of a movement and the straightness ratio of underlying spontaneous upper extremity movements.

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