What is Low Muscle Tone and how does it affect my child’s development?

“Can you imagine the frustration and the agony to be constantly reminded by a parent or a teacher to sit up straight and to pay attention. You are putting in such a lot of effort and energy to maintain an upright position and yet your muscles feel so heavy and your movements feel akward and clumsy. You try so hard to sit still, but your muscles keep on moving and adjusting to enable you to to find a more comfortable position.

Some children has to put in more effort and energy to maintain an upright posture and some children has to constantly move and change position to be able to pay attention and focus on given tasks. The child with low muscle tone often seems weak and he tires easily because he has to use a lot of effort to just hold his head and body up against the pull of gravity. Symptoms of hyperactivity e.g. wiggling, rocking, swinging or shifting can occur in an attempt to keep his body upright. (Ayers,2005: 52, Kranowitz,2003: 125).

Man is dependant on the maintenance of an upright position in sitting, standing and walking to be able to perform more complex and skilled movements of the arms and hands without fatigue. Functional muscle tone assist the body to maintain an upright position, allowing the individual to focus effectively on the more skilled activities e.g. to read or write or to independently eat and dress himself. If a child finds it difficult to process information from his muscles and joints, his arms and legs feel heavy and it is difficult to guide him through activities e.g. putting on shoes and socks or to lift him onto a chair or a jungle gym.”

  • Download this excellent article by Port Elizabeth based Occupational Therapist, Elrie Maree: Low muscle tone (313 KB), to read more.
  • Elrie’s number is 041 3642923, should you wish to contact her.

Kruising van die middellyn

Wanneer baba twee blokkies met groot bravade teen mekaar kap, is hy eintlik besig om noodsaaklike boustene vir leer en gedrag neer te lê. Gedurende die eerste paar maande van ‘n baba se lewe maak hy baie verskillende bewegings met beide kante van sy liggaam wat miskien vir ons doelloos mag voorkom. Die brein stoor egter al hierdie sensasies en ervarings van die sintuie en die spiere sodat die liggaam later hierdie ervarings kan gebruik om meer doelgerigte vaardighede te kan uitvoer. Ons kan hierdie proses vergelyk met ‘n padkaart wat vir liggaam (“body mapping”) opgestel word sodat hy presies weet hoe om sekere bewegings en motoriese vaardighede spontaan en met gemak te kan uitvoer.

Soos die baba sterker word, raak hierdie bewegings meer doelgerig en gekontroleerd en vind daar spesialisering plaas van ‘n meer vaardige of dominate kant van sy liggaam. Op hierdie wyse is akademiese vaardighede bv. lees en skryf dan op ‘n latere ouderdom die eindproduk van goed geintegreerde bilaterale motoriese koördinasie en kruising van die midlyn bewegings wat baba so natuurlik uitgevoer het.

Wanneer ons as volwassenes ons bewegings dophou, kom ons agter dat ons voortdurend ons twee hande spontaan saam gebruik of dit is om ons baba se doek om te ruil of om onsself aan te trek. Wanneer iets dalk verkeerd gaan bv.daardie ongemaklike gevoel wanneer daar ‘n seerplekkie op jou een hand is wat verhoed dat jy jou hande saam kan gebruik, is nie altyd so ‘n aangename ondervinding nie. Jy voel lomp en onbeholpe en dit vereis ekstra energie om eenvoudige take uit te voer. ‘n Kind vir wie dit ‘n uitdaging is om beide kante van sy liggaam saam te gebruik, kan daarom moontlik lomp en onbeholpe voorkom en dit kan vir hom ekstra inspanning wees om spontaan saam met sy maats te speel en te leer.

Taking the GROSS out of motor development

You may well have heard of gross motor development before, but what exactly does the “gross” part imply? And why is it important for you as a parent to know what the commotion is about – does it really impact on your child’s development? What does motor development have to do with your child’s ability to learn to read, or concentrate in class? Can sitting really influence communication later on?

In this workshop presented by Toddlers Workshop and Intercare, we will aim to help parents understand what the basic building blocks of motor development are, and give practical advice and functional techniques regarding stimulation of these – in a format that should comfortably fit into any household’s schedule. Understanding the basics of early stimulation of motor development can help prevent later learning difficulties.

Our hope is that proactive guidance may amplify your child’s potential.

The workshop will be presented by Madri Hammond, occupational Therapist, and Stephani Mans, physiotherapist and mother of a young baby.

Please join us for this workshop at Toddlers Workshop, 39 Brewer Rd, Summerstrand on 31 March 2009, 19:00 for 19:30.  Tickets are R50 per person and can be obtained from Toddlers Workshop (0837933320) or from Intercare Medical Centre (041 3959600).  Booking is essential.

The importance of Gross Motor Development

Title: The importance of Gross Motor Development
Location: Toddlers Workshop Summerstrand, 39 Brewer Road, Summerstrand, PE
Description: By Physiotherapist Stephani Mans and Occupational Therapist Madri Hammond.
Cost: R50 per person
Booking essential!!
Start Time: 19:00 for 19:30
Date: 2009-03-31