Motor delays are common in children, but early recognition can optimize outcomes through timely referrals from the medical home to pediatric specialists and developmental therapists.
In a new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) clinical report, “Motor Delays: Early Identification and Evaluation,” published in the June 2013 print issue of Pediatrics (published online May 27), pediatricians are encouraged to evaluate children with suspected motor delays during the recommended developmental screenings that take place at ages 9, 18, and 30 months.
A variety of motor skills should be observed during screening, including gross motor milestones such as rolling over, crawling, walking, and climbing stairs, as well as fine motor skills like grasping objects, putting blocks in a cup, scribbling or creating a stick figure drawing.
Both the parents and pediatrician should be involved in determining whether the child may be at risk for developmental problems, and it is important for pediatricians to carefully address any concerns made by the child’s family. Children diagnosed with a developmental disorder should be referred to early intervention or special education resources. The clinical report includes an algorithm for screening and diagnosing motor diseases.
“We hope this approach will shorten the ‘diagnostic odyssey’ encountered by many children with motor delays, and more quickly get these children to appropriate specialists for treatment,” said pediatrician Garey Nortiz, MD, FAAP, co-author of the clinical report.
“This report provides pediatricians with a quick and easy approach to the detection of motor delays in children,” said Nancy Murphy, MD, FAAP, co-author. “By watching kids move and play during physical examinations, you can quickly detect those who need a bit more attention, and early recognition can lead to medical and functional interventions that optimize outcomes.”