In my previous blog about the Alberta Infant Motor Scale, I mentioned that as a baby ages, more age-appropriate developmental motor scales must be used to monitor achievement of skills. The Peabody Developmental Motor Scale is a comprehensive and reliable tool used to measure both fine and gross motor activities early in life. It was designed to assess motor skills in children from birth to 5 years old. A majority of physical therapists use this assessment to monitor toddler and preschooler development.
The PDMS-2 is not just limited to physical therapist use. It can be helpful to occupational therapists, diagnosticians, early intervention specialists, adapted physical education teachers, psychologists, and developmental pediatricians who are monitoring motor abilities of children younger than five. The six subtests that make up the PDMS-2 can be used separately or can be combined to collectively describe a child’s gross motor skills (Gross Motor Quotient), fine motor skills (Fine Motor Quotient), or overall motor skills (Total Motor Quotient).
See below for a description of each subtest:
Reflexes: The 8-item Reflexes subtest measures aspects of a child’s ability to automatically react to environmental events. Because reflexes typically become integrated and less obvious by the time a child is 12 months old, this subtest is given only to children from birth through 11 months of age.
Stationary: The 30-item Stationary subtest measures a child’s ability to control his body within its center of gravity and retain equilibrium. Stationary skills include standing on one leg without falling, or standing on tiptoes.
Locomotion: The 89-item Locomotion subtest measures a child’s ability to move from one place to another. The actions measured include crawling, walking, running, hopping, and jumping forward.
Object Manipulation: The 24-item Object Manipulation subtest measures a child’s ability to manipulate balls. Examples of the actions measured include catching, throwing, and kicking.
Physical therapists mostly focus on the reflex, stationary, locomotion, and object manipulation portions of the PDMS-2. Through these sections of the test, we can better assess 1) the maturation of a baby’s neuromuscular system, 2) his safety and stability when navigating his environment, 3) his ability to support and move his own weight, and 4) his ability to maintain his balance and control his trunk while moving objects outside his center of gravity. Overall, this tells us how well a child can use the large muscles in his body to stabilize and create movement.
The Peabody Developmental Motor Scale has been norm-referenced, and proven to be reliable and valid. It has been used to monitor children with and without developmental difficulties. It is relatively easy to administer and the information it provides can be used by medical professionals to tailor a child’s individualized education program (IEP).
Does your toddler have special needs? Or do you have questions about physical therapy screenings for your preschooler? Come to see one of our specialists!