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Assessment Tools: Alberta Infant Motor Skills (AIMS)


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Title Alberta Infant Motor Skills (AIMS)

Authors Piper, M.C., Darrah, J.

Summary The AIMS assesses through observation infants who are delayed or atypical in their motor performance and evaluates motor development over time (Piper & Darrah, 1994).

Format 58 item, performance-based, norm-referenced, observational tool.

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Identification of Motor Delays:

  • All infants aged18 months or younger.

Evaluation of Motor Development Over Time:

  • All infants, 18 months or younger, except those with abnormal patterns of movement.
  1. Infants with normal motor development that are being monitored over time as part of their develomental history.
  2. Infants at risk for developmental delays.
  3. Infants who have been diagnosed with disorders or conditions causing delayed motor development (e.g. fetal alcohol syndrome, Down syndrome, failure to thrive, seizure disorders, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and developmental delay).
  4. Infants with no predisposing factors whose motor development is identified as being immature or suspect through a routine physical examination.

AIMS should not be used to evaluate older children whose motor abilities are still at the infant level (Piper & Darrah, 1994).


Infants are assessed in four positions:

  • supine
  • prone
  • sitting
  • standing

The scoring sheet consists of a line drawing for each item with key descriptors of postures or components of movements that must be observed. Items are marked as either "observed" (1 point) or "not observed" (0 point). For each of the postures, the least mature and most mature items are identified and scored as "observed".

The total AIMS score is the sum of the four positional scores. A graph is provided to plot the infant's total score. From this, the infant's percentile ranking is compared to a normative, age matched sample. (Piper & Darrah, 1994).

Sequencing of the assessment: The entire scale does not have to be administered. Test only those items in the range most appropriate for the infant's developmental level. All four positions must be assessed however a particular sequence does not have to be followed, nor does one item have to be completed before observing another position (Piper & Darrah, 1994).

Completion time 20 to 30 minutes

  • examining table for younger infants (0 to 4 months)
  • mat or carpeted area for older infants; the mat should be firm enough that it does not impede the infant's ability to move
  • toys appropriate for ages 0 to 18 months
  • stable wood bench or chair to observe some of the pull to stand, standing, and cruising items in the standing subscale.
  • AIMS score sheet and graph.

Setting: in the clinic or home; warm quiet room is desirable.

Infant state: whenever possible, the infant should be naked for the assessment; infant should be awake, active and content during assessment.

Parental involvement: Parent or caregiver should be present during assessment and should undress the infant; parent should comfort the infant if anxious.

Training Rehabilitation Therapists; health care professionals with knowledge of motor development in infants.

Key References

Barbosa, V. M., Campbell, S. K., Sheftel, D., Singh, J., & Beligere, N. (2003). Longitudinal performance of infants with cerebral palsy on the test of infant motor performance and on the alberta infant motor scale. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 23(3), 7-29. [PubMed]

Bartlett, D. J., & Fanning, J. E. (2003). Use of the alberta infant motor scale to characterize the motor development of infants born preterm at eight months corrected age. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 23(4), 31-45. [PubMed]

Campbell, S. K., Kolobe, T. H., Wright, B. D., & Linacre, J. M. (2002). Validity of the test of infant motor performance for prediction of 6-, 9- and 12-month scores on the alberta infant motor scale. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 44(4), 263-272. [PubMed]

Darrah, J., Piper, M., & Watt, M. J. (1998). Assessment of gross motor skills of at-risk infants: Predictive validity of the alberta infant motor scale. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 40(7), 485-491. [PubMed]

Fetters, L., & Tronick, E. Z. (1996). Neuromotor development of cocaine-exposed and control infants from birth through 15 months: Poor and poorer performance. Pediatrics, 98(5), 938-943. [PubMed]

Finch, E., & Canadian Physiotherapy Association. (2002). Physical rehabilitation outcome measures : A guide to enhanced clinical decision making (2nd ed.). Hamilton, Ontario: BC Decker. [find in library]

Jeng, S. F., Yau, K. I., Chen, L. C., & Hsiao, S. F. (2000). Alberta infant motor scale: Reliability and validity when used on preterm infants in taiwan. Physical Therapy, 80(2), 168-178. [PubMed]

Majnemer, A., & Snider, L. (2005). A comparison of developmental assessments of the newborn and young infant. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 11(1), 68-73. [PubMed]

Piper, M. C., Pinnell, L. E., Darrah, J., Maguire, T., & Byrne, P. J. (1992). Construction and validation of the alberta infant motor scale (AIMS). Canadian Journal of Public Health. Revue Canadienne De Sante Publique, 83 Suppl 2, S46-50. [PubMed]

Piper, M. C., & Darrah, J. (1994). Motor assessment of the developing infant. Philadelphia: Saunders. [find in library]


Piper, M. C., & Darrah, J. (1994). Motor assessment of the developing infant. Philadelphia: Saunders. [find in library]

Cost $98.00 CND

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