mHealth Intervention for Motor Skills: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Amanda E. Staiano, Robert L. Newton, Robbie A. Beyl, Chelsea L. Kracht, Chelsea A. Hendrick, Matthew Viverito, E. Kipling Webster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Children's motor skills are a critical foundation for physical activity. The objective was to determine the effectiveness and feasibility of a mobile app-based intervention delivered to parents to improve preschoolers’ motor skills. METHODS: This randomized controlled trial randomly assigned children to: (1) Motor Skills, including instructional lessons, peer modeling videos, behavioral scaffolding, and structured activities or 2) Free Play. Both groups received a 12-week app-based intervention informed by social cognitive theory to deliver 12 hours (12-minutes per day, 5× per week) of instruction. The children were aged 3 to 5 y; parents and children had no mobility impairments. The primary outcome variables were children’s motor skills percentile score assessed with the Test of Gross Motor Development, third edition (TGMD-3) at baseline, end-of-intervention (week 12), and follow-up (week 24); and feasibility and acceptability. RESULTS: Seventy-two children (4.0 ± 0.8 y) participated. Between baseline and week 12, children in the Motor Skills condition significantly improved total TGMD-3 percentile (113.7 Motor Skills vs -5.3 Free Play, P < .01), locomotor skills percentile (115.5 Motor Skills vs -4.8 Free Play, P < .01), and ball skills percentile (18.3 Motor Skills vs -7.3 Free Play, P < .01) compared with children in the comparator group. Significant differences were sustained at follow-up (week 24). Adherence did not significantly differ between conditions (71% for Motor Skills; 87% for Free Play). Parents in both arms reported high scores on satisfaction, helpfulness, and ease of use. CONCLUSIONS: Clinicians and educators may encourage parents to enhance their child’s motor skills through structured at-home programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number:e2021053362
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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