Abstract

Importance: Given the importance of proprioception in motor coordination, the identification of sensory deficits contributing to motor challenges is crucial for appropriate intervention; however, objective proprioceptive tests are not currently available in pediatric clinical practice.

Objective: To pilot test methods for assessing proprioception in children. Children with somatodyspraxia were predicted to have reduced proprioceptive awareness compared with age-matched control children.

Design: Observational study.

Setting: Individual clinic.

Participants: Ten children identified as having somatodyspraxia and 10 typically developing children, ages 6–8 yr.

Outcomes and Measures: Spatial awareness and force perception were assessed by having the children match arm positions and grip and pinch forces using electronic dynamometers.

Results: All children were able to complete the proprioceptive assessments. Of those identified as having somatodyspraxia, 90% showed deficits in at least one area of proprioception. Children with somatodyspraxia performed more poorly on spatial awareness and force perception tests than typically developing children (p < .05).

Conclusions and Relevance: Children with dyspraxia have difficulties with spatial awareness and force perception, confirming a somatosensory contribution to dyspraxia.

What This Article Adds: This article presents a framework and methods to measure proprioception in children. These methods will allow occupational therapy practitioners to quantify the proprioceptive deficits common in children with dyspraxia.

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