Pediatric Physical Therapy: Creative Techniques and Using Innovative Technology for Pencil Grasp Patterns

Pediatric physical therapy is aimed at helping children reach their maximum potential to function independently. By extension, it seeks to promote active participation for a child in environments such as at home or in school. The focus of this type of physical therapy is to facilitate motor development and function and improve strength and endurance while also enhancing learning opportunities for the child.

Each approach to pediatric physical therapy varies and depends on the need of each child. For instance, treatment for children who have difficulty with movement and mobility will be geared towards improving range of motion. Physical therapists in Houston or anywhere else may start with something as simple as helping as teaching a child to grasp a pencil.

Introducing the various pencil grasp patterns is both creative and effective in developing a child’s most basic abilities. This seemingly mundane exercise is actually an important part of early childhood development particularly for children who experience fine motor problems. Pediatric physical therapy professionals in Stafford use pencil grasp patterns as an innovative and fun activity in order to develop gross motor skills with an emphasis on strengthening muscles on the shoulder and arms.

Part of your child’s development will also include various stages of pencil grasp that will help them along in school. It is important that you do NOT force your young toddler to hold their writing tool the “proper way,” as this may cause more harm than good. Each stage serves its purpose and will depend on their shoulder and arm stability as well as strength.

Remember: It is very hard to change a poor pencil grasp later in life!

This a quick review of a developing child’s grasp pattern:

1st- You will see a “fisted grasp” where your child will move the crayon mostly with their shoulder.

2nd- Then comes the “palmar grasp” where the pencil lies across the palm of their hand and their elbow is held out to the side.

3rd-  After that the “5 finger grasp” will develop. Here, the wrist is usually held off the table and wrist movements are used for coloring.

4-th- And finally, you should see a mature 3-finger pencil grip, more commonly known as the “tripod grasp”. With practice, your child will be using this grasp for writing and drawing.

Be aware that switching grasps is common and a mature 3 finger grasp is not typically seen until 5-6 years of age, and even older.

Presented/Written by: Marlen Gonzalez

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