Motor Skills

Last Updated: May 30, 2020

Definition - What does Motor Skills mean?

Motor skills refer to the body's ability to manage the process of movement. To execute motor skills, a person's brain, muscles and nervous system must all work together. A person's motor coordination is determined by how well he or she is able to perform a desired function when employing these motor skills.

Examples of motor skills include the ability to track the movement of an object with one's eyes, balance on one leg, or climb stairs.

A person's motor skills may change over the course of his or her lifetime. Different tests are used to assess motor skills. For adults, tests such as the Bruininks Motor Ability Test (BMAT) may be used to to determine both fine and motor skill levels. The information gained from motor skills testing may be used to assess a person's ability to perform specific tasks or his or her need for rehabilitative services.

Motor skills may also be called motor behavior.

WorkplaceTesting explains Motor Skills

Motor skills are often categorized as fine or gross. Fine motor skills are those that involve small controlled movements such as writing or turning a dial. Gross motor skills refer to large body movements such as waving, bending, or walking.

Motor skills develop in early childhood. For some individuals, impairments in motor skills may be identified in childhood when the person's motor development fails to follow the expected progression. In these instances, intervention or accommodation may be necessary.

Adults can continue to develop and improve their motor skills by using physical exercises or practicing repeated motions. This process is called motor learning with the results sometimes being referred to as muscle memory.

Motor skills can become impaired due to accident, injury, disease or age-related regression. For example a person who has experienced a stroke may suffer an impairment of his or her fine or gross motor skills.

Impaired motor skills can cause a person to have poor posture, difficulty balancing, trouble handling small objects, or limited hand-eye coordination. In the workplace, an individual with limited motor skills may require accommodations or assistive technology to perform his or her job tasks.

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