Physical Therapy Meets Fun in “the Challenge”

July 18, 2016

“The Challenge,” created by Virginia Wright, is a new way of measuring children’s advanced motor skills.

It’s also fun!


What is the Challenge?87098b74340d5c9822630e9ceacb6d0a


The Challenge is an extension of the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM)—a clinical measure used to evaluate changes in gross motor function in children with cerebral palsy. The test, while originally devised for children with high functioning cerebral palsy, can also be used with diagnoses that involve problems with coordination and balance. This system also gives physical therapists a baseline on which to measure progress and design interventions to help children keep up with others in their day-to-day activities as well as during play and athletics.


What does the Challenge Look like?


It is comprised of several different skills and tasks that:

1) are considered important for children and youth to be able to perform in school and recreation,

2) focus on impairments of speed, balance and coordination that are typical in children with cerebral palsy [and children with diagnoses involving coordination and balance] and

3) integrate upper/lower limb movements and dual task performance.[*]


These activities range from having the child jump several times in different patterns, to bouncing or catching a ball, to standing on one leg for several seconds. There are 20 diverse steps in the Challenge; all of them mimic different aspects of play or function.

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PTC patient completing a step of “the Challenge”




The Challenge is a new, and great, tool. It helps physical therapists assess children and improve their balance and coordination. Improvement of a child’s performance in the Challenge can lead to a corresponding improvement in school and recreation activities. The test compares the child’s progress to their previous performance on the test. This is a more effective way to measure their development because it shows each child’s unique developments rather than measuring them according to normative ones.

Here at PTC, our very own Jane Knowlton PT, DPT is now licensed in the Challenge. During the course she attended, taught by creator Virginia Wright, she learned that the best part of the Challenge was how much patients enjoyed it. Some kids thought it was so fun they even went home and practiced it on their own!

What more could a physical therapist ask for?



To learn more about the Challenge in detail, click here.


[*] Quoted from Wright’s “Description of the Challenge”

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