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Hum Mov Sci. 2001 Mar;20(1-2):161-82.

Fine motor deficiencies in children diagnosed as DCD based on poor grapho-motor ability.

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Nijmegen Institute for Cognition and Information (NICI), University of Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, Netherlands.


A sample of 125 children from grades 4 and 5 of two normal Dutch primary schools were investigated regarding the incidence of handwriting problems and other fine motor disabilities. Handwriting quality was assessed with the concise assessment method for children's handwriting (BHK) and the school questionnaire for teachers (SQT). Two groups of 12 children each were formed, one group of good writers and a group of poor writers selected from the lower performance range. The latter group was investigated in depth by assessing general and fine motor ability using the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (M-ABC test) and the Motor Performance School Readiness Test (MSRT). We hypothesised that poor handwriting is part of a wider neuromotor condition characterised by faster and cruder movements, lack of inhibition of co-movements and poor co-ordination of fine motor skills. To test the theory kinematic measures of drawing movements were collected on the flower-trail-drawing item of the M-ABC test. Moreover, the experimental group of poor writers received physiotherapy during a three-month period and was tested for handwriting proficiency after therapy and again nine months later. The results revealed that 34% of the group of 125 children displayed handwriting problems. The analysis confirmed that serious handwriting problems are accompanied by fine motor deficits. We suggest that in these children an enhanced level of neuromotor noise is compensated for by enhanced phasic stiffness of the limb system. This results in higher movement velocity and fewer velocity peaks. In the children who received physiotherapy the quality of handwriting improved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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