Gross motor development involves the attainment of progressive motor (movement) milestones in your baby:
Key areas to monitor in gross motor development include:
Tummy time enjoyment and ability – Dislike/hate of tummy time
Rolling ability – front to back/back to front
Crawling – onset
Crawling styles (e.g. all 4, Crab craw, Bum shuffling, One sided commando crawling)
Walking – age on onset, ability, and balance.
Balance and co-ordination
Walking style (gait) and/or leg/foot position
Co-ordination – Clumsiness and frequent falls/accidents
Fine motor skills
What does the brain need to development good gross motor skills?
Normal brain development requires normal sensory input.
The developing brain requires stimulation from the eyes, ears, taste, touch and proprioception. This sensory input helps shape the developing brain into a fully sophisticated brain that allows complex function.
The brain is a stimulus based system. The more a brain cell is stimulated, the more it will increase its size and strengthen its connections. Brain development requires a high frequency, duration, and intensity of stimulation.
Proprioception is all the information going to the brain from the muscles, ligaments, and joints. A large percentage of sensory input to the brain occurs from proprioceptive input. For example, the greatest concentration of receptors in human muscles and joints is in the spine, with the highest density at the top of spine.
The cerebellum (“the little brain”) is a part of the brain which is essential for normal motor movements. Its function is to provide feedback to the cerebral cortex and brainstem regarding motor co-ordination. It also has a role with controlling emotion and cognition.
Issues with the cerebellum lead to in-coordination of gait, balance, extremity movements and eye movements. The cerebellum receives a barrage of input through proprioceptive sensory pathways involving the spinal system. Signs of cerebellar dysfunction may include low muscle tone, changes to posture, poor balance, poor leg and arm co-ordination, poor eye muscle control, and unsteady balance when walking. Some of these signs may be subtle, and may only become apparent on testing.