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Fine Motor Skills - How Occupational Therapy Can Help Improve Them?

Dr. Iram Parveen 92% (657 ratings)
Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT), Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (BOT)
Occupational Therapist, Delhi  •  5 years experience
Fine Motor Skills - How Occupational Therapy Can Help Improve Them?

What are fine motor skills?
Motor skills are movements and actions carried out by the proper coordination of the brain, nervous system, and muscles working together. These motions are divided into two types – fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Acquiring and mastering motor skills or control helps you explore the world around you and also helps with your cognitive development.

  • Gross motor skills: They are the movements and actions of the larger groups of muscles of the arms, legs and other body parts to see visible actions like running, swimming, crawling etc
  • Fine motor skills or dexterity: They are the movements and actions of the larger groups of muscles of the wrists, hands, fingers, and the feet and toes to see visible actions like picking up objects between the thumb and finger, writing, etc

Fine motor skills will keep developing with your age, practice and the increased use of muscles. This happens while you are playing sports or playing an instrument. Activities like writing, coloring and using the computer also help in acquiring and mastering them.

Reasons behind fine motor skill issues
As all motor skills require proper coordination of the brain, nervous system, muscles, joints along with good eyesight; issues with any of them can have an effect on dexterity and decrease control. Some common causes affecting the fine motor skills are…

  1. StrokeThe frontal lobe controls your movement, and the cerebellum “fine-tunes” them. As the cerebellum controls fine motor movement, balance, and the brain's ability to determine limb position, a stroke in the cerebellum leads to paralysis or "jerky" muscle movements.
  2. Dyspraxia or DCD: This condition affects co-ordination of gross motor skills requiring balance, kicking and throwing a ball and fine motor skills too such as writing or using small objects carefully in children and adults.

Apart from stroke or DCD any major injury, illness, congenital deformities, cerebral palsy, and developmental disabilities can hamper the fine motor skills development too.

Occupational therapy for improving fine motor skills
All fine motor skills are imperative for your own self-care and maintaining self-dependence for the different activates carried out throughout your life, any dexterity issues can severely bring down your self-esteem and quality of life. Occupational therapy can help improve overall fine motor skills. It involves the use of particular activities as an aid to recuperation from physical or mental illness. An Occupational therapist can practice in different settings, like: hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools, outpatient clinics, and the assisted living communities too.

So, depending on how soon the fine motor skill issues are diagnosed and their severity one can approach the Occupational therapist for their improvement. He or she would then follow an assessment process allowing them to identify the nature of your difficulties with fine motor skills, and the reasons for them. Once identified, they work with you to put in place a plan to address them. Depending on each individual case the therapy would involve a practice of different movements on a regular basis to help you improve and master the fine motor skills.

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