Many children have learning disabilities such as dyslexia and the inability to write coherently known as dysgraphia. To many, dyslexia and dysgraphia may seem to only relate to reading, speaking and writing; however, research and studies have helped to provide a better understanding of these learning disabilities and the connection to other functional movements. Past studies and literature have shown that children with dyslexia often experience difficulties with fine and gross motor skills (Capellini et al., 2010). This can manifest in complications with coordination and balance as well as general ‘clumsiness.’ Alterations to the motor, sensory and perception systems is identified to be a possible characteristic of children with learning disabilities. A team of researchers from Italy (Galli et al.. 2018) set out to study and quantify the motor skills of children with learning disabilities specifically during drawing.
The study included children with dysgraphia, dyslexia, as well as a control group of children who did not have learning disabilities. The children were instructed to copy three drawings, a circle, a cross and a square. The researchers utilized an optoelectronic marker system of reflective markers and infrared cameras to track and quantify the movements of the subjects. Markers were placed on the head, trunk and upper limbs. The data was acquired, tracked and analyzed with the SMART software from BTS Bioengineering of the SMART-DX system. This system allows for 3D reconstruction of anatomical landmarks and the computation of kinematics. The upper limb range of motion was calculated as well as the duration, velocity, trace length of each trail. The quantitative data allowed for comparison between the three groups.
The results of the study indicated that the group of children with dyslexia on average traced the circle figure at a higher velocity than the two other groups. The children with dyslexia also drew at a higher velocity on certain sides of the square figure. For the tracing of the cross figure, children with dyslexia on average had a lower execution time and increased velocity for drawing the horizontal line within the cross.
These data contribute to the overall understanding of the motor function of children with learning disabilities. When people hear about motion analysis labs, athletic movements and gait analysis may come to mind. However, this study demonstrates the interdisciplinary and versatile use of motion analysis technology for many applications. With such technologies, healthcare professions have the opportunity to objectively study patients to better understand pathologies and work towards improving care and treatment.
This post was based on the following articles, cited:
Capellini, Simone Aparecida, Coppede, Aline Cirelli, & Valle, Talita Regina. (2010). Função motora fina de escolares com dislexia, distúrbio e dificuldades de aprendizagem. Pró-Fono Revista de Atualização Científica, 22(3), 201-208. https://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0104-56872010000300008
Galli, M., Cimolin, V., Stella, G., De Pandis, M. F., Ancillao, A., & Condoluci, C. (2018). Quantitative assessment of drawing tests in children with dyslexia and dysgraphia. Human movement science.
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