How does decreased trunk control affect my child’s schoolwork?

Our trunk muscles (“core”) greatly influence how we move through our environment and how we engage in gross motor and fine motor activities throughout the day. Trunk muscles affect our ability to sit and stand, to carry a backpack or briefcase, to carry books and materials throughout the day, and the ability to participate in extracurricular poor trunk controlactivities and hobbies. We rely on our trunk muscles more than we know. Therefore, if decreased trunk strength or trunk control is noted, many side effects or resulting behaviors may occur, particularly for a school-age child, such as the following:

Affects Of Poor Trunk Control In School Aged Children:

  • May cause distractibility, as your child is focused more on keeping his body in an upright, erect posture, rather than focusing on the task at hand (e.g. teacher’s directions; homework task)
  • May result in decreased body awareness, as your child may not respect their personal space due to propping on others for support to compensate for decreased endurance in a seated position (e.g. lying on floor or propping on elbows during circle time)
  • May be observed as increased fidgeting, as your child is frequently trying to reposition themselves due to the inability to sustain a position for an increased length of time (e.g. mealtime, table time, homework assignment)
  • May produce illegible or sloppy work, as your child may not be maintaining a posture that is suitable for writing (e.g. slouching, falling off of chair, propping head onto hand, sitting on feet rather than keeping feet flat on floor)
  • May result in decreased participation in gym class or recess activities due to decreased endurance and strength for sports-like activities
  • May cause decreased safety, as the trunk is a major “power house” which correlates with upper body and lower body strength as well (e.g. falling off of chair during tabletop activity; falling down the stairs)

If you feel that your child may have decreased trunk control, stay tuned for my next blog on strategies to promote increased trunk control at home and at school! If you have immediate concerns, contact an occupational therapist or your child’s primary care physician.

Click here to read part 2 of this blog: “Strategies to Promote Increased Trunk Control at Home and School”

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