NURTURE INFORMATION HUB
FINE MOTOR SKILLS
Development of fine motor skills in preterm infants
Fine motor skills involve the use of the smaller (fine) muscles in the hands, fingers and wrists to engage in activities such as grasping and holding items, writing, threading, cutting, fastening buttons turning pages on a book, typing on a computer keyboard and brushing teeth. A child’s hand-eye coordination involves the use of their eyes to direct their muscles towards a task and plays a supporting role in the development of a child’s fine motor skills.
Preterm infants, including those born moderately preterm (32-34 weeks gestation) can have difficulties in the development of their fine motor skills which impacts their ability to engage in age appropriate activities. As school age, between 40% and 60% of very preterm infants (born <32 weeks gestation) experience difficulties in the use of their fine motor skills. Neonatal conditions that can increase the risk of a preterm infant experiencing difficulties in the use of fine motor skills in early childhood include intra-uterine growth restriction, inflammatory conditions and bronchopulmonary dysplasia (chronic lung disease).
Fine motor skills involve the use of the small muscles in the hands, they also require the eyes and hands to coordinate. These skills make tasks such as dressing, writing, feeding, cutting, using a computer possible. Though these skills are normally developed in the early years, some teenagers may benefit from further fine motor practice and hand strengthening activities to consolidate their abilities.
Some age appropriate activities to further develop the skills are
Discussing any issues with your teenager’s teacher is a starting point if you are concerned about your teen’s abilities. They may suggest you engage the help of an Occupational Therapist. It is important to approach this subject with your teen in a compassionate, discrete, and caring way as it may cause personal and social issues for them.