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Fine motor control is the coordination of muscular, bone (skeletal), and neurological functions to produce small, precise movements. The opposite of fine motor control is gross (large, general) motor control. An example of fine motor control is picking up a small item with index finger and thumb. An example of gross motor control would be waving an arm in greeting.
Problems (lesions or dysfunctions) of the brain, cerebellum, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, muscles, or joints may all impair fine motor control. The difficulty in speaking, eating, and writing caused by Parkinson's disease is due to loss of fine motor control.
The development of fine motor control is a process of refining gross motor control. It develops as the neurological system matures.
The level of development of fine motor control in children is used to determine the developmental age of the child. Fine motor skills are developed through time, experience, and knowledge. Fine motor control requires awareness and planning to complete a task. It also requires muscle strength, coordination and normal sensation.
Tasks such as stacking blocks, drawing lines or circles, cutting out shapes with scissors, zipping a zipper, folding clothes, and holding and writing with a pencil can occur only if the nervous system matures in the right way.
References Return to top
Kimmel SR, Ratliff-Schaub K. Growth and development. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 31.Update Date: 2/27/2009 Updated by: Jennifer K. Mannheim, CPNP, private practice, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.