The Children's Institute Blog

National PT Month: Gross Motor Group

Posted: Oct 30, 2017 by The Children's Institute

For two of the six years she’s been at The Children’s Institute, physical therapist Jen Brilmyer has helped coordinate gross motor group, which exercises children’s physical skills, as well as their social ones.

Dorian Rice Haigh playing kickball“Really, we serve all different types of children,” Jen told me, “but primarily we’re looking at children who have difficulty in issues engaging in skills with peers, such as ball skills, coordination, endurance skills – things like that.”

In addition to regular physical therapy, the gross motor group engages children – typically ages four to 10 – in groups. But, Jen stressed, she and other clinicians “tailor the activities to meet the needs of each child.”

“The thing that makes gross motor group unique is they’re participating with their peers,” Jen said. “We want them to do things that typical kids their age do.”

For Dorian Rice Haigh – a nine-year-old who is on the Autism spectrum and has Ehlers Danlos syndrome, which causes issues with his muscles and joints – gross motor group was “perfect, not too many people, not too little.” And, true to The Children’s Institute’s mission of engaging children in meaningful, sometimes playful, therapy, it was a lot of fun.


“Whichever exercises the kids chose is what they worked on most,” said Dorian, who liked to pick kickball activities. Others chose basketball skills – or soccer.


“It was pretty helpful,” he said, with a big smile. “I learned to play line-tag.”


Dorian’s mom, Cindy, said he’s been receiving physical and occupational therapy since he was three or four years old.

“They’re tremendous at The Children’s Institute – they get him,” Cindy said.

“Balance is an issue to him and he’s much, much better with that now,” she added. “Standing on one foot, standing on the other foot. Before we knew what was going on, he’d fall and bruise so easily.”

“Now, he’s doing great.”

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