Welcome to our glossary page. Here, you can find explanations for some of the most commonly used medical terms.

Abduction: is the movement of any part of the body away from the centre of the body.

Active movement: is the movement that a child does without help.

Adduction: is the movement of any part of the body towards the centre of the body.

Anterior: is nearer the front of the body.

Associated reactions: is increase of stiffness in a spastic arm or leg resulting from effort in another part of the body; e.g. increased tone in an arm when using a leg.

Asymmetrical: when one side of the body is different from the other side. (unequal)

Ataxia: lack of ability to complete smooth, coordinated movement 

Athetoid / Athetosis: fluctuating, uncontrolled patterns of movement

Cerebral Palsy: a persistent but not unchanging disorder of posture and movements appearing in the early years of life.

Clonus: is the shaking movement of a spastic muscle after having been suddenly stretched.

Contracture: permanently shortened muscles and/or joints, caused by reduced stiffness and range of movement (rom).

Diplegia: mainly affecting the lower limbs.

Deformities: the body or limbs being in abnormal positions usually indicates bony changes, as well as contractures.

Depression: is the downward movement of the shoulder.

Distal: is farther away from the attachment of a limb.

Dorsiflexion: foot is going up or back towards the body.

Dystonia: involuntary, poorly-controlled movements

Elevation: upward movement of the shoulder.

Eversion: is the sole of the foot going away from the middle of the body.

Extension: straighten the part of the body.

Facilitation: making it easier/possible to move.

Flaccid: floppy/hypotonic.

Flexion: the bending of any part of the body.

Head Control: the ability to maintain control or move the position of the head.

Hypotonia: decreased muscle tension/floppiness/flaccid.

Hemiplegia: a functional impairment, more dominant on one side.

Inversion: the under side (sole) of the foot is going towards the middle of the body.

Lateral: to either side, away from the centre of the body, e.g. lateral malleolus – the outside of the ankle.

Medial: nearer the middle of the body.

Movement: change of position.

Muscle tone: the state of tension in muscle at rest and when moved.

Nystagmus: the continual sideways oscillation of the eyeball.

Passive: that which is done to the child without the child having to actively help or co-operate.  (n.b. co-operation could cause tone that would limit passive range.)

Patterns of movement: in every movement or change of posture produced by it, the brain recruits muscles into action always in well coordinated groups i.e. patterns.

Plantarflex: foot going away from the body.

Posterior: nearer the back of the body.

Posture: position the child starts a movement from.

Primitive movement: immature or baby movement.

Prone: lying on tummy.

Proximal: is nearer the attachment of the limb.

Quadriplegia: affecting all four limbs and the trunk.

Reflexes: postures and movement completely out of the child’s control.

Retraction: backward movement of the shoulder.

Rotation: (lateral) away from the centre of the whole body.

Scoliosis: deformity of the spine.

Spasm: sudden tightening of muscles.

Spasticity: stiffness – increase in muscle tone.

Superior: towards the head.

Supine: lying on back.

Symmetrical: equal both sides of the body.

Trunk: the body as distinct from limbs.

Valgus feet: flat footed.

Valgus: is a joint being pulled or growing inward.

Varus: is a joint being pulled or growing outward.

Voluntary movement: is movement done with intention and concentration.

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