The Project: Improving motor skills in children and adults

Child wearing eye trackerThe purpose of this research project is to use our vast combined knowledge and experience of sport psychology and visuomotor control research at the Liverpool Hope University and University of Exeter to improve our understanding of motor coordination problems in children and adults and to develop a new training  intervention that will improve the motor skill of these individuals.

Motor Control Problems

People who suffer from motor control problems such as dyspraxia and developmental coordination disorder (DCD) have severe impairments in the judgments of both the spatial and temporal aspects of a skill.  These problems cause the individual’s movements to become jerky and imprecise and can severely effect their day-to-day lives.  They struggle to learn new skills and ultimately it has been shown that children with the DCD withdraw from social situations and physical activity leading to health concerns.

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The Quiet Eye

Within the visuomotor control literature, a concept known as the Quiet Eye (QE) has been developed.  This is essentially a gaze strategy which is defined as a final fixation before the onset of a movement (e.g. when aiming).  Research has shown that longer and earlier QE periods in a variety of sports tasks and skills are associated with elite and successful performances of a motor skill.

What can we do?

This project has therefore set out to determine whether training of the QE period in children and adults with movement difficulties can improve their motor control and therefore execution of skills that involve severe timing and spatial constants.  The skill we have used throughout this project to demonstrate these effects is throwing and catching.

If you would like more information on this project or are interesting in participating in any of our studies please contact Charlotte at milesc@hope.ac.uk

Visit our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/motorskillsresearch?fref=nf

12 thoughts on “The Project: Improving motor skills in children and adults

  1. Very floored hypothesis , showing greatly poor judgment in the underlying neurological and metabolic ,causes of dcd . Time to accept it as both a developmental and degenerative state, linked to cerebral and spastic difficulties , as well as memory impairment and various depressive and narsasitic difficulties . I think if you look at prof Bruce Evans own research he disproved the tracking theory many years ago.

    • Thanks for your comments, although I feel you have misjudged what this project is about. We fully appreciate DCD is a highly complex condition with many contributing factors such as those you mention. We are not attempting to determine the cause of DCD or develop a ‘cure’. Our work is focused on developing our sports based perceptual strategies (e.g. the QE – which has been proven to be highly effective) into a domain that will help children and adults suffering from the condition to compensate for their coordination deficits when performing sports tasks. Ultimately we are hoping to encourage more of these children to have the confidence to take part in physically and socially active activities.

  2. My 13 year old s6n has dyspraxia, s.p.d and a.p.d and hypa mobile joint syndrome so has lax ligimants he likes sport but is so negative as he finds it so hard and kids can be so mean that he won’t even atempt to do things because he has set himself up to fail. He has put on a lot of weight but he is going threw some changes and he isn’t grosly over weight. He loves and has always love water and swimming. I’d love to find out more about this as it wld help morgan understand his condition more and may boost his self asteem wen he realises he can’t help having dyspraxia as no ond has sat with him other than me and explained it most people havnt heard of it so this is amazing . Let me know altho I think we live to far away as we are in essex.

    • Hi Kelly, Thanks for getting in touch. There is no doubt this is a very challenging condition for children to cope with as it does impact all areas of life. I would definitely recommend you encourage you son to keep swimming and keep trying lots of new activities. As children get older and practice skills more they do work out coping and compensatory strategies that make other tasks easier. Unfortunately Essex is likely too far for us to travel unless we have a few more people contact us from this area, but I would recommend that you get in touch with the Dyspraxia Foundation. They are very good at offering parental and child support and I know they have several local groups operating, one of which I believe is based in Suffolk. Have a look at this link… http://www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/info/local.php.

      Good luck to you both!

      Charlotte

  3. I live in east herts and have an 8yr old who appears to be dyspraxia like his Dad. We are just about to embark on formal diagnosis etc.. we are really interested in your research and would like to know more about it . if we can’t be involved, what can we do to apply what you know can hel p to our sons life?

  4. Please can you let me have some more information about this study? My daughter is 10 and has a diagnosis of dyspraxia and asd. We live in Dorset. Thanks Donna Cox

    • Hi Donna, Thanks for your message. If you drop me an email on calm201@exeter.ac.uk I will send you across the full information about the study and taking part. Essentially the study involves 2 visits to our laboratory where we will firstly assess your daughter’s movement skills and do a training session. Then 6 weeks later we will invite you both back for a final retention follow up. If you are still interested drop me an email and we can go from there.
      Charlotte

  5. I would like to say how important this research is. I am so pleased that you have chosen dyspraxia as your subject. I do wish you the best. Miss Debi Taylor from pembrokeshire.

  6. Dear Sir,

    My son is 7 and half, and he has ASD, Dyspraxia, we have been working on different skills. We live in Milton Keynes. Can he take part in this study.

    • Hello, apologies for the long delay in replying, we have taken time out to move up this research project lately. Our recruitment is now taking place in Liverpool and unfortunately requires several visits to the laboratory so I imagine this will not be possible for you being based in Milton Keynes.
      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

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