Grounding early intervention: physical therapy cannot just be about motor skills anymore

Phys Ther. 2013 Jan;93(1):94-103. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20120158. Epub 2012 Sep 20.


This perspective article provides support for 4 interrelated tenets: grounded perceptual-motor experience within cultural and social contexts forms cognition; exploration through early behaviors, such as object interaction, sitting, and locomotion, broadly facilitates development; infants and children with limited exploration are at risk for global developmental impairments; and early interventions targeting exploratory behaviors may be feasible and effective at advancing a range of abilities across developmental domains and time. These tenets emphasize that through the promotion of early perceptual-motor behaviors, broader, more global developmental advancements can be facilitated and future delays can be minimized across domains for infants and children with special needs. Researchers, educators, and clinicians should build on these tenets to further demonstrate the effectiveness of targeted early interventions. The goals of these interventions should be not only to advance targeted perceptual-motor skills in the moment but also to more broadly advance future abilities and meet the early intervention goal of maximizing children's learning potential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child Behavior
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition*
  • Developmental Disabilities / therapy
  • Early Medical Intervention*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Learning
  • Locomotion
  • Motor Skills
  • Perception
  • Physical Therapy Specialty*
  • Postural Balance