Riccardo N Caniato RN, Heribert L Stich HL and Bernhard T. Baune
Normal movement is essential for a child’s healthy physical, cognitive and social development. Accurate data on the incidence of disorders of motor functioning in children is needed if appropriate public health initiatives are to be implemented. We used data from the Bavarian Pre- School Morbidity Survey (BPMS) to look at the rates of motor impairments in thirteen consecutive cohorts of children entering primary school, from 1997 to 2009. We explored prevalence rates of motor impairments and its sub domains over thirteen years. We utilised a retrospective crosssectional study design to assess the prevalence of impairments over thirteen consecutive cohorts of German children beginning school, from 1997 to 2009. A total of 13088 children were assessed for physical impairment using a standardised medical assessment. We subdivided motor functioning into three separate sub-areas of functioning: gross motor, fine motor and graph-motor (drawing) skills. There was a dramatic increase in the rates of motor impairments in children over the thirteen year period. The prevalence of one or more motor impairments rose from 8.15 to 42.44% for boys and from 2.12 to 17.21% for girls over the study period. Mostly, children were having increasing difficulties with fine motor tasks and tasks involving writing and drawing, while gross motor functioning was less affected. The rapid and dramatic increases in motor problems over the 13 years are concerning and warrant further exploration. We suspect that children, increasingly exposed to modern technologies, may be losing certain fine motor skills, especially those relating to hand written language and drawing. Such changes may indicate significant changes in modern child development which warrant exploration and intervention. Alternatively, our results may indicate that traditional tests of motor functioning, which use drawing and pencils, may be outdated in a modern world where the need to use pen and paper is increasingly unnecessary. Tests of motor functioning may need to be updated and new norms developed.
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