Evaluation of motor function in young infants by means of the assessment of general movements: a review

Pediatr Phys Ther. 2001 Spring;13(1):27-36.


Purpose: Optimal management of children with developmental disorders, such as cerebral palsy (CP), requires detection at an early age. The purpose of this paper is to review the predictive value of various forms of traditional neonatal neurological examination and that of a new form of neuromotor assessment of young infants, based on the assessment of the quality of general movements (GMs).

Summary of key points: The technique of GM assessment is presented and the features of normal, mildly abnormal and definitely abnormal GMs discussed. Essential to GM assessment is the Gestalt evaluation of movement complexity and variation. The quality of GMs at two to four months postterm has been found to have the highest predictive value. The presence of definitely abnormal GMs at this age, ie, GMs devoid of complexity and variation, puts a child at very high risk for CP.

Conclusions: This implies that definitely abnormal GMs at two to four months are an indication for early physical therapy intervention.