Barbara Womack, PT, MA
Kid-Ability Mobile Pediatric Physical Therapy, LLC, Phoenix, Arizona
Carolyn B. Heriza, PT, EdD, FAPTA
Professor, Doctoral Programs in Pediatric Science, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo, Utah
“How could I apply this information?”
The Alberta Infant Motor Scale (AIMS) is a norm-referenced assessment of motor development for infants from birth to 18 months of age. It was designed to look at motor development over time up to age 18 months and to identify motor development delays.
Clinical take-home messages from this study are:
* This and other studies have found the AIMS a reliable tool for evaluating motor development in infants born at term and infants born preterm and extreme preterm, at or below 29 weeks gestational age.
* “Gaps” were found in motor skills of infants born preterm in the prone and sitting sequences, as cited in the AIMS manual, because of strong extensor strength. Infants born extremely preterm sometimes achieve motor skills in a different trajectory.
* The difference in movement patterns of infants born at term and infants born extremely preterm, such as a strongly extended posture, present difficulty in determining the least and most mature skills in each subscale. This may affect the subscores and the overall AIMS score in this population.
* Although the AIMS does not require specific training, experienced therapists familiar with infant motor development and movement analysis are more reliable testers. Novice therapists and nontherapists should receive training.
* Serial assessments of infants at high risk for motor development delays should be given over time to avoid misdiagnosis.
“What should I be mindful about in applying this information?”
* The AIMS is less reliable in infants of very young age (>4 months) and infants approaching independent ambulation (after 12 months) because of limited test items in these age ranges. Greatest reliability is in the mid-range between these ages.
* The placement of the window on the movement repertoire, that is, the range of skills between the least and most mature skills, is crucial in determining the final test outcome. This window may be more difficult to determine in infants born preterm because the quality of their movement differs from infants born at term.
* The AIMS was not designed for use in infants developing atypically and should be used cautiously with this group.