What is Postural Control?

Postural control is a motor skill that is the result of multiple sensorimotor interactions. These sensorimotor interactions are what a person feels in their joints and muscles throughout the day. It is important to have appropriate posture control and support so a child can maintain an upright posture while in a seated position, with or without external support. External support can include a parent helping them maintain an upright position, the back of a chair, and even arm rests on the chair. A child who has proper postural control can sustain a seated position without fatigue.

Postural control is important because it provides a basis of support which allows the arms and legs to move smoothly. A child who has difficulty sitting with good posture will struggle to write, complete crafts, or do any table-top activities that require fine motor precision as the child will need to put all of his/her attention to making sure he/she will not fall off the chair. Poor postural control does not only affect a child’s fine motor skills, but it can also affect their eating habits, their speech, and their attention to the task in front of them. These deficits will usually stem from the instability they feel due to decreased postural control.



Signs of Poor Postural Control in Children:

  • Sitting on a chair in slouched position
  • Leaning far onto table top to gain support while sitting
  • Frequent falls while seated
  • Difficulty on playground equipment such as slides, poles, see saws, and swings
  • Walking with wide base of support and sitting in W-sit wide position
  • Limited verbal/speech abilities
  • Problems with self-feeding
  • Unable to attend to one task at a time
  • Decrease ability in staying in one place for a period of time

If your child is showing any signs of poor postural control, our Physical Therapy at MPPT are a  great option to provide fun tasks to help improve their postural control! Our Physical Therapists are equipped with the knowledge to implement appropriate activities and tasks to improve postural control. They are also able to make referrals for any adaptive equipment that might be needed due to decreased postural strengthening. This adaptive equipment can be used to improve activities of daily living, while fun postural activities are worked on to strengthen and improve their independent postural control. 

Examples of these activities include:

  • Playing games like toss and catch in “High Knees” position which is like kneeling with bottom up and hips and knees straight.
  • Wheelbarrow walks are a great way to improve core strength, measure how far you can go!
  • Stretch out while laying child on his/her tummy try to lift arms and legs off the floor with hands facing forward and palms down, pretend you are a super hero!
  • Play pushing feet with peers: While sitting and facing each other place feet against friends’ feet and push.
  • Encourage your child to try new equipment at the playground, swings, monkey bars, slides and poles are all activities that increase core strength which then helps improve postural control.