Human movement science vol:22 issue:4-5 pages:495-513
Thirty-two children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) and learning disabilities (LD) and their age-matched controls attending normal primary schools were investigated using kinematic movement analysis of fine-motor performance. Three hypotheses about the nature of the motor deficits observed in children with LD were tested: general slowness hypothesis, limited information capacity hypothesis, and the motor control mode hypothesis. Measures of drawing movements were analyzed under different task conditions using a Fitts' paradigm. In a reciprocal aiming task, the children drew straight-line segments between two targets 2.5 cm apart. Three Target Sizes were used (0.22, 0.44, and 0.88 cm). Children used an electronic pen that left no trace on the writing tablet. To manipulate the degree of open-loop movement control, the aiming task was performed under two different control regimes: discrete aiming and cyclic aiming. The kinematic analysis of the writing movements of the 32 children with DCD/LD that took part in the experimental study confirmed that besides learning disabilities they have a motor learning problem as well. Overall, the two groups did not differ in response time, nor did they respond differently according to Fitts' Law. Both groups displayed a conventional trade-off between Target Size and average Movement Time. However, while movement errors for children with DCD/LD were minimal on the discrete task, they made significantly more errors on the cyclic task. This, together with faster endpoint velocities, suggests a reduced ability to use a control strategy that emphasizes the terminal control of accuracy. Taken together, the results suggest that children with DCD/LD rely more on feedback during movement execution and have difficulty switching to a feedforward or open-loop strategy.