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Timed performance in specific motor tasks is an essential component of a neurological examination applied to children with motor dysfunctions. This article provides centile curves describing normal developmental course and interindividual variation of timed performances of non-disabled children from 5 to 18 years. In a cross-sectional study (n=662) the following motor tasks were investigated: repetitive finger movements, hand and foot movements, alternating hand and foot movements, sequential finger movements, pegboard, and dynamic and static balance. Intraobserver, interobserver, and test–retest reliability for timed measurements were moderate to high. Timed performances improved throughout the entire prepubertal period, but differed among various motor tasks with respect to increase in speed and when the ‘adolescent plateau’ was reached. Centile curves of timed performance displayed large interindividual variation for all motor tasks. At no age were clinically relevant sex differences noted, nor did socioeconomic status significantly correlate with timed performance. Our results demonstrate that timed motor performances between 5 and 18 years are characterized by a long-lasting developmental change and a large interindividual variation. Therefore, a well standardized test instrument, and age-specific standards for motor performances are necessary preconditions for a reliable assessment of motor competence in school-age children.
Associated movements (AMs) are the most frequently assessed parameters of movement quality in children with motor dysfunctions. In this article, reference curves of duration and degree of AMs from 5 to 18 years are provided. In a cross-sectional study of non-disabled children (n=662) duration and degree of AMs were estimated at six specific ages while children performed repetitive finger, hand, and foot movements, alternating hand and foot movements, diadochokinesis, sequential finger movements, pegboard, stress gaits, and dynamic balance. Moderate-to-high intraobserver and interobserver reliability for the assessment of AMs were noted. Duration and degree of AMs displayed a non-linear developmental course that was a function of the motor task's complexity. AMs decreased most with age in repetitive movements, less in alternating and sequential movements, and least in the pegboard and dynamic balance. Reference curves demonstrated large interindividual variations for duration and degree of AMs. Both the variable developmental course and large interindividual variation need to be taken into account in the assessment of movement quality of school-age children. In contrast to timed performance, considerable sex differences for AMs were observed.
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