Why is crossing the midline important in Occupational Therapy?
Occupational Therapy assists in the activities that children need, desire and are expected to do. This includes but is not limited to dressing, feeding, toileting, writing, and play. These can be generalised in the term, ‘activities of daily living’. Adequate fine motor skills are essential for all activities of daily living. Therefore, Occupational Therapist often up-skill children’s fine motor skills so that they can engage in their activities of daily living. Activities that provide opportunities for children to cross the midline reinforce the pathways between the hemispheres and allows for the fundamentals of fine motor skills, such as the development of their dominant hand, as well as enhancing a child’s coordination and learning (ie. reading – the ability to track letters along the line of a page).
Crossing the midline activities also develops a child’s gross motor skills such as coordination and balance. Gross motor development is also essential in order to maintain a children’s development with their peers. A child’s poor gross motor skills can also negatively impact their attention and working memory. The child can be too preoccupied coordinating themselves that they are not retaining the information they need in their working memory. Attention and working memory are necessary for completing the more complex activities of daily living such as dressing or writing (e.g. knowing the sequences of dressing themselves or having enough attention to complete a writing task). Therefore, therapists incorporate crossing the midline activities to address numerous avenues of up-skilling and learning for the children.