Specific Test of Early Infant Motor Performance (STEP)


Neonatologists, occupational therapists, and researchers at MUSC have created a quantitative 10-item motor skills screening test for detection of early motor deficits in at-risk infants. This rapid test has been compared to a current gold standard infants’ assessment, the qualitative 42-item Tests of Infant Motor Performance (TIMP) at term and 3 months corrected age. In these comparisons, the 10-item assessment correlated strongly with the later developmental outcomes on the Bayley III cognitive and motor domains at 1 year. However, the STEP takes less time to administer than TIMP (which can take up to and hour) and has been shown to have stronger correlations to later developmental assessment at 1-year. A shorter assessment results in more rapid and consistent motor assessment being performed on at-risk infants prior to discharge from the newborn nursery. An earlier assessment facilitates referral to early intervention services during a period when brain plasticity can benefit from sensory-motor induced plasticity and targeted rehabilitation.



The Specific Test of Early Infant Motor Performance (STEP) and instructional video are available for online licensing & download at https://flintbox.com/public/project/60555/


Overview: Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common motor disabilities in childhood – 1 in 323 children has been identified as a child with CP. Some studies indicate that low-weight and premature birth can contribute to the prevalence of CP. Statistically, 1.1 per 1,000 children born weighing more than 5.5 pounds and 6.2 per 1,000 children born weighing 3.5 to 5.5 pounds are identified as having CP. Comparing these rates to the 59.5 per 1,000 children born weighing less than 3.5 pounds that are identified as having CP demonstrates just how strong the case is for low-weight and premature birth to be a risk factor for CP. However, CP is typically not diagnosed until 18 to 24 months of age. Earlier intervention resources have been shown to significantly improve outcomes. As such, an early, rapid, and accurate motor performance test that can detect motor deficiencies in early infants may be able to provide hope for premature and low-weight children and their families.


Applications: Pre-term High Risk Infants, NICU, Motor Skills Assessment, Cerebral Palsy, Infant Motor Deficiency



Saves Time: The quick, 10 item assessment takes approximately 10 minutes to administer which is significantly less time than its hour-long, 42-item predecessor.

Reproducible: Quantitative rather than qualitative observations allow results to be reproducible across multiple sites.

Increased Deficit Detection: Quicker, more reproducible assessments can screen more infants and lead to higher detection rates at earlier time points.


Key Words: Infant Motor Skill Assessment, Quantitative Motor Skills Assessment, Shortened Motor Skills Assessment, Tests of Infant Motor Performance (TIMP)


Publication: Gower, Laurel, et al. "Early developmental assessment with a short screening test, the STEP, predicts one-year outcomes." Journal of Perinatology 39.2 (2019): 184.


Inventors: Patricia Coker-Bolt, Dorothea Jenkins, Noelle Moreau

MUSC-FRD Technology ID: P1221



Patent Information:
Research Tool
For Information, Contact:
zzChelsea Ex-Lubeskie
Licensing Manager, Devices
MUSC Foundation for Research Development
Patricia Coker-Bolt
Dorothea Jenkins
Noelle Moreau
Jessica Perkel
© 2022. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Inteum