D is for DISTAL MOBILITY

As in “proximal stability leads to distal mobility”.

Let’s break this down. In a nutshell, this phrase means that you have a strong core in order to have good control of your extremities.

Think about typical development. Babies come into the world and one of the first skills they start developing is trunk and core mobility, moving from the flexed position of being in utero to learning how to extend their body. In the beginning of their lives, their bodies are focusing on strengthening their core muscles so that the more refined muscles of the arms and legs can later develop.

So many times, we get referrals (I see you peds OT practitioners) for people who are having difficulty with their fine motor control, visual motor skills, bilateral coordination, handwriting, etc and upon further assessment, we discover that these delays and difficulties stem from weakness within their core. A weak core can lead to compensatory movement patterns and greatly impact daily functioning and occupations.

In the picture above, I am addressing this little one’s distal mobility by challenging his core in effort to build strength in his proximal stability. How am I doing that? I have facilitated him into a small base of support (ring sitting) and am asking to reach and grasp for shapes placed in various locations around his body. Typically he would collapse his body to the ground when reaching, but through physical prompts I am teaching him to use his arms to support himself and increasing his distal mobility through proximal stability.

What’s your go to proximal stability→ distal mobility activity within your practice area?

The ABCs of OT was created by Shannen Marie. For more #otmonth fun, follow along to see what the rest of the alphabet has in store.

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