Fine motor control is the coordination of muscles, bones, and nerves to produce small, precise movements. An example of fine motor control is picking up a small item with the index finger and thumb.
The opposite of fine motor control is gross (large, general) motor control. An example of gross motor control is waving an arm in greeting.
Problems of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, muscles, or joints may all decrease fine motor control. The difficulty in speaking, eating, and writing in people with Parkinson's disease is due to a loss of fine motor control.
The amount of fine motor control in children is used to determine the child's developmental age. Children develop fine motor skills over time, by practicing and being taught. To have fine motor control, children need:
Awareness and planning
The following tasks can only occur if the nervous system matures in the right way:
Cutting out shapes with scissors
Drawing lines or circles
Holding and writing with a pencil
Zipping a zipper
Kimmel SR, Ratliff-Schaub K. Growth and development. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 31.
Jennifer K. Mannheim, ARNP, Medical Staff, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Seattle Children's Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.