Motor Control Dysfunction

Motor control dysfunction is a term used to describe an abnormality in the way the nervous system controls and coordinates muscle movement. It can result from a wide range of factors, including injury, illness, or a neurological disorder, and can manifest as impaired movement, loss of coordination, and decreased ability to perform everyday activities. In physiotherapy, motor control dysfunction is often treated through a combination of exercises and interventions designed to improve coordination, balance, and strength, and to restore normal movement patterns.

Causes of Motor Control Dysfunction

Motor control dysfunction can have many different causes, including:

  • Neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or stroke.
  • Injuries to the brain or spinal cord.
  • Musculoskeletal injuries or conditions, such as back pain, shoulder impingement, or patellofemoral pain.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Postural dysfunction.
  • Lack of physical activity or sedentary lifestyle.
  • Aging.
  • Genetic or developmental disorders affecting the nervous system.

These are just a few examples of the many possible causes of motor control dysfunction. The underlying cause of the dysfunction will often determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Motor Control Dysfunction

The signs and symptoms of motor control dysfunction can vary depending on the underlying cause but may include:

  • Decreased coordination or balance.
  • Inability to perform complex movements or tasks.
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills, such as writing or manipulating small objects.
  • Loss of range of motion in affected joints.
  • Muscle weakness or atrophy.
  • Tremors or involuntary movements.
  • Pain or discomfort.
  • Fatigue or decreased endurance.

In some cases, motor control dysfunction may also lead to psychological or emotional effects, such as depression, anxiety, or social isolation, as the person may feel frustrated or embarrassed about their limitations. It is important to seek medical attention if any of these symptoms are experienced.

Treatment for Motor Control Dysfunction

The physiotherapy treatment for motor control dysfunction may vary depending on the underlying cause and the specific symptoms experienced by the individual. Some of the common approaches used by physiotherapists to address motor control dysfunction include:

Exercise therapy: This involves specific exercises to improve strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance. These exercises are tailored to the individual’s specific needs and goals.

Motor control retraining: This approach aims to retrain the neuromuscular system to improve movement patterns and decrease compensatory movements that may lead to pain or dysfunction.

Manual therapy: This may include massage, joint mobilization, or soft tissue mobilization to help alleviate pain and improve joint mobility.

Education and advice: Physiotherapists may provide education and advice on how to modify daily activities to minimize pain or discomfort and improve function.

Technology-based interventions: Physiotherapists may use technology-based interventions such as biofeedback or virtual reality to enhance motor learning and facilitate the development of new movement patterns.

Overall, the goal of physiotherapy treatment for motor control dysfunction is to improve function, reduce pain, and optimize quality of life.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about motor control dysfunction please call us at 03 9836 1126.



Maeo, S., Takahashi, T., Takai, Y., Kanehisa, H., & Kawakami, Y. (2020). Neuromuscular training with a home exercise program for elderly individuals with motor control dysfunction: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of physical therapy science

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