Divergence of Fine and Gross Motor Skills in Prelingually Deaf Children: Implications for Cochlear Implantation

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Abstract

Objective:

The objective of this study was to assess relations between fine and gross motor development and spoken language processing skills in pediatric cochlear implant users.

Study Design:

The authors conducted a retrospective analysis of longitudinal data.

Methods:

Prelingually deaf children who received a cochlear implant before age 5 and had no known developmental delay or cognitive impairment were included in the study. Fine and gross motor development were assessed before implantation using the Vineland Adaptive Behavioral Scales, a standardized parental report of adaptive behavior. Fine and gross motor scores reflected a given child's motor functioning with respect to a normative sample of typically developing, normal-hearing children. Relations between these preimplant scores and postimplant spoken language outcomes were assessed.

Results:

In general, gross motor scores were found to be positively related to chronologic age, whereas the opposite trend was observed for fine motor scores. Fine motor scores were more strongly correlated with postimplant expressive and receptive language scores than gross motor scores.

Conclusions:

Our findings suggest a disassociation between fine and gross motor development in prelingually deaf children: fine motor skills, in contrast to gross motor skills, tend to be delayed as the prelingually deaf children get older. These findings provide new knowledge about the links between motor and spoken language development and suggest that auditory deprivation may lead to atypical development of certain motor and language skills that share common cortical processing resources.

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