Adolescent Clumsiness and the Haptic Perceptual System

Open Access
Koppel, Rachael Vera
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Karl Maxim Newell, Thesis Supervisor
  • Steriani Elavsky, Honors Advisor
  • Adolescent
  • Clumsiness
  • Haptic
  • Perception
  • Growth
  • Peak Height Velocity
Background: Adolescents often are described as clumsy and awkward. The emergence of clumsiness at the most rapid growth period is possibly due to a perceptual deficit. The perceptual system provides information about joint angles, muscle length, and muscle tension and without appropriate scaling the individual cannot veridically discern the world around them. Purpose: The purpose of the proposed research was to examine the effects of skeletal peak height velocity on the rapidly growing adolescent’s motor control. It was hypothesized that the adolescents with the most rapid growth either skeletally or in Body Mass Index (BMI) were more likely to have a poor sense of where their body is in space versus those adolescents whose velocity of growth was the slowest. Methods: All subjects (girls between the ages 9.5 to 10.5 years old) wielded objects in one hand behind a curtain and used the other to estimate the length of the rod used (Solomon and Turvey, 1989). 8 different length rods were tested 6 times each. A 5-question survey as well as height, weight and BMI were measured and calculated as well. Results: Significant findings showed that as the length of the rod increased average error of the estimated rods increased as well. The results also showed that BMI was insignificant compared to the average error of estimated rod lengths. Conclusion: The identified knowledge is a stepping-stone to further research about adolescent clumsiness and the lag in neural proprioception growth. Understanding adolescent clumsiness is critical for injury prevention and overall knowledge of developmental motor control.