Quick Facts

  • Motor skills may be impaired and make everyday tasks difficult
  • Motor skill conditions following brain injury may include:
    • Hemiparesis – weakening of one side of the body
    • Hemiplegia – paralysis of one side of the body

What does it
look like?

Gross motor difficulties:

  • Clumsiness when walking, running, riding a bike, playing sports, etc.
  • Difficulty maintaining balance, falling, or abnormal walking
  • Arms and/or legs may be stiff or tight (called spasticity)
  • Erratic pace, or slow movements
  • Limited range of motion

Fine motor difficulties:

  • Messy writing, untied shoelaces
  • Difficulty using utensils or picking up small objects
  • Difficulty with self-care tasks such as brushing teeth and combing hair

Possible Causes and Complications

Possible causes:

  • Damage to the following areas can result in motor impairments
    • Primary motor cortex – controls the movements of muscles
    • Basal ganglia – which controls position and voluntary movement
    • Cerebellum – monitors the muscles during movement and is important for balance and coordination

Possible complications:

  • Muscle weakness may affect the ability to control the bowel and bladder
  • Spasticity (muscles continuously contracting) may cause pain and discomfort
  • Difficulty taking part in social, recreational, and leisure activities
  • Depression, anger, and frustration
  • Participation difficulties may make it difficult to make and keep personal and professional relationships

What can we do?

  • Ask how you can assist and be aware of abilities
  • Stay in close proximity while transferring from a wheelchair, getting out of a car, or walking
  • Provide additional time for tasks, encourage as much independence as possible
  • Encourage the completion of rehabilitation exercises and activities as recommended by health care professional (i.e. physiotherapist, occupational therapist)

Gross motor difficulties:

  • Create a safe environment by keeping pathways clear
  • Carefully plan the length of walks and allow for breaks

Fine motor difficulties:

  • Support independent dressing by using Velcro on shoes, elastic waistband, etc.
  • Use of modified equipment such as larger handle toothbrush, weighted utensils, and pencil grips
  • Take breaks often
  • Ensure family members and friends are aware of rehabilitation program and related precautions for safety

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to replace advice from a medical doctor. Consult a health care provider regarding specific medical concerns or treatment.