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Dyspraxia is a neurological condition which affects movement and co-ordination and can also be associated with problems with language, perception and thought. Dyspraxia means 'control of movement' in Greek. It can also be known as Developmental Co-Ordination Disorder and Clumsy Child Syndrome.

Physiotherapy is extremely important to help you or your child to develop motor skills and improve co-ordination.

What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a neurological condition which is characterised by difficulty in planning smooth, co-ordinated movements thought to be due to a disruption in the way messages are transmitted from the brain to the rest of the body.

Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with dyspraxia than girls and overall it is thought to affect approximately 10% of the population with 2% of these cases being severe.

Dyspraxia is normally present from birth and symptoms become noticeable in early childhood. 90% of children with dyspraxia will continue to experience difficulties into adulthood.

Those with dyspraxia may have problems with:
  • Gross Motor Skills - such as running, jumping, riding a bicycle
  • Fine Motor Skills - such as using a pen, scissors and a knife and fork
  • Perception Skills - such as reduced self-image leading to bumping into things
  • Language - speech may be limited or difficult to understand and they may have problems understanding instruction
Those with dyspraxia may also have other conditions such as:
  • Dyslexia: a type of learning difficulty which mainly affects reading and spelling
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): a group of behavioural symptoms including poor concentration, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It is thought that approximately half of all children with dyspraxia also have ADHD.
Dyspraxia does not affect intelligence but it does affect learning ability.

There are many other problems and combination of problems associated with dyspraxia which may be seen in individuals as the condition affects people in different ways.

Neurological physiotherapist supervising safe mobilisation down a flight of stairsAbove: Neurological physiotherapist supervising safe mobilisation down a flight of stairs

What are the causes of Dyspraxia?

The causes of dyspraxia are not fully understood and as yet there is no known clinical neurological abnormality present to explain the condition.

It is thought that the condition is due to an immaturity of the nerves in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) meaning that the nerve pathways associated with movement and co-ordination do not develop as they should leading to the symptoms described.

Although the exact cause is not known, there have been a number of risk factors identified:
  • Premature birth (earlier than the 37th week of pregnancy)
  • Being born with a low birth weight
  • Having a family history of dyspraxia
  • The mother taking drugs, drinking or smoking during pregnancy

How is Dyspraxia diagnosed?

Dyspraxia is diagnosed following assessment by a number of professionals that may include GP's, paediatricians, educational psychologists, neurologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

The assessments will include information about developmental history and intellectual ability and will also examine gross and fine motor control.

Dyspraxia is normally diagnosed using the following criteria:
  • Motor skills are significantly below the level expected for their age and intelligence
  • This lack of skill affects their daily activities and school achievements
  • This lack of skill is not caused by another medical condition, such as Cerebral Palsy
  • If they have a learning difficulty compared to children of the same age.
The earlier an individual is diagnosed, the better their chance of improvement.

What problems caused by Dyspraxia can physiotherapy help with?

Physiotherapy is an extremely important aspect of treatment for dyspraxia. Although the condition cannot be cured it has been shown through research that physiotherapy treatment can make a great difference to the muscle strength and co-ordination of dyspraxic children.

Physiotherapy is able to treat the following problems:
  • Altered muscle tone
  • Reduced eye/hand co-ordination
  • Reduced eye/foot co-ordination
  • Decreased spatial awareness
  • Reduced gross and fine motor skills
  • Decrease in concentration and behaviour
  • Reduced self confidence
  • Affected social skills

How does physiotherapy help Dyspraxia?

Physiotherapy plays a multi-faceted role within the assessment and treatment of dyspraxia.

Our neurological physiotherapists understand that part of a child's learning process involves play which depends upon motor and co-ordination skills. Research has shown that play leads to social interaction and sharing with their peers. Children use these positive experiences to develop and explore new concepts.

Dyspraxic children encounter many negative experiences as their immature co-ordination and motor skills mean that activities attempted are often failed. Repeated negative experiences leads to poor social interaction and low self-esteem.

Our specialist physiotherapists aim to increase your child's confidence and self-esteem through directed play and positive experiences which in turn will improve their co-ordination and motor skills.

What would physiotherapy treatment for dyspraxia involve?

Physiotherapy for dyspraxia is dependent upon the individual's particular needs.

The main aims of physiotherapy treatment are to improve motor skills, co-ordination, spatial awareness and self-confidence.

An initial assessment is carried out to fully understand how dyspraxia is affecting your child in order for our expert physiotherapists to create a treatment plan specific for their needs.

A treatment plan may include:
  • Activities and games to increase strength, co-ordination, balance and spatial awareness
  • Provision of a home exercise programme
  • Education around the condition for parents, children, teachers and others
  • Provision of a long term management programme
Physiotherapy treatment for dyspraxic children is focussed around fun activities to encourage full participation and interaction whilst at the same time improving their physical symptoms.

How do I arrange a physiotherapy appointment for Dyspraxia?

If you would like to book an appointment with one of our neurological physiotherapists the please email or call today on 0151 558 0077.


Dyspraxia is a difficulty in achieving smooth movement, commonly affecting gross motor, fine motor, perception or even language skills. The cause of dyspraxia is unknown and the problem is usually identified by learning or developmental ability.

Early intervention physiotherapy is vital to increase co-ordination and muscle strength, in turn improving quality of movement and quality of life dramatically.

To arrange a neurological physiotherapy assessment for dyspraxia e-mail or call Liverpool Physio today on 0151 558 0077.

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