Alberta Infant Motor Scale (AIMS)

Posted on: March 13, 2015 | By: cbaliker | Filed under: Alberta Infant Motor Scale (AIMS), T&M Tools

1. Descriptive Information.

Title, Edition, Dates of Publication and Revision: Piper MC, Darrah J. Motor Assessment of the Developing Infant. Philadelphia , PA: Saunders; 1994.

Authors: Martha C Piper and Johanna Darrah

Costs: Pack for 50 score sheets is $48.95. Elsevier;

Purpose: To measure the motor development for infants at risk for motor delay, focusing on attaining motor milestones and components necessary to attain the milestones. The AIMS takes into consideration three criteria related to quality of movement: weight distribution, posture and movement against the force of gravity.

Type of Test: performance based, norm-referenced observational measure

Target Population and Ages: Infants 0-18 months or until child is able to independently walk

2. Test Administration.

Administration: observation of spontaneous activity

Scoring: The AIMS consists of 58 items, including 4 positions: prone (21 items), supine (9 items), sitting (12 items) & standing(16 standing). Each item is scored as ‘observed’ or ‘not observed’. The scorer identifies the least and most mature item observed. The items between these items represent the ‘motor window.’ Each item within the ‘motor window’ is scored as ‘observed’ or ‘not observed.’ 1 point is given for each item prior to the least mature item and 1 point within the motor window. Add up all the points for each subscale, sum the 4 subscales for a total score and plot on the percentile graph.

Type of information, resulting from testing: percentile ranking

Equipment and Materials Needed: scoring sheets

Examiner Qualifications: Should be administered by professionals in child healthcare who have knowledge of normal infant motor development and experience with administering the instrument.

Psychometric Characteristics: Interobserver reliability found intraclass correlation coefficients of 0.76 to 0.99 of infants 0-18 months (Almeida et al.)

Standardization/normative data: Data was collected between1990-1992 in which 2,202 infants were assessed to represent the largest normative data set for a pediatric measure.

Evidence of Validity & Reliability: Piper and Darrah found the AIMS to be a valid and reliable tool for evaluating the gross motor development of Canadian infants (1992).

Predictive: The predictive capacity of the AIMS varies based on the age that the child was evaluated. Infants below the 10th percentile at 4 months and below the 5th percentile at 8 months can be considered valid and reliable indicators of motor developmental delay or abnormality.



The article by van Wijk et al., Response to Pediatric Physical Therapy in Infants With Positional Preference and Skull Deformation, investigates infant and parent characteristics related to pediatric physical therapy in infants 2-4 months with positional preference, skull deformation, or both. The primary outcome was a good or poor response to therapy of infants at 4.5 to 6.5 months of age. Questionnaires, plagiocephalometry and the Alberta Infant Motor Scale assessed predictors for responses. Physical therapy consisted of positioning and activities that facilitated position of movements opposite of the infant’s positional preference. The study consisted of 657 infants. These infants were split into 2 groups based on their outcome of physical therapy. 364 infants demonstrated a good response to therapy and 293 infants responded poorly. The article found that parents with a lower level of education and male infants were more likely to respond poorly to physical therapy. The significant independent predictors for a poor response to therapy were: starting therapy after 3 months, plagiocephaly, and a low parental satisfaction score regarding the shape of the infant’s head. No association was established between motor development and skull deformation in infants 4.5 to 6.5 month of age. The strength of this study was the large cohort available to assess the relationship between multiple characteristics and outcomes. A weakness of the study was that only general information was collected about therapy.

Overall, the characteristics found in this study can be used in daily practice wand provide insight when working with this population.Children over the age of 3 months should be referred to a pediatric physical therapist in order to achieve the most positive outcomes from therapy.



1. Alberta Infant Motor Scale: A Clinical Refresher and Update on Re-Evaluation of Normative Data. Published October 8, 2014. Accessed March 12, 2015.

2. Almeida KM, Dutra MVP, Reis de Mello R et al. Concurrent validity and reliability of the Alberta Infant Motor Scale in premature infants. J Pediatr. 2008; 84(5): 442-448.

3. Blanchard Y, Neilan E, Busanich J, et al. Interrater reliability of early intervention providers scoring the Alberta Infant Motor Scale. Pediatr Phys Ther. 2004; 16:13-18.

4. Darrah J, Piper MC, Watt MJ. Assessment of gross motor skills of at risk infants: predictive validity of the Alberta Infant Motor Scale. Dev Med Child Neurol. 1998;40: 485-491.

5. Piper MC, Pinnell LE, Darrah J, Maguire T, Byrne PJ. Construction and validation of the Alberta Infant Motor Scale (AIMS). Can J Public Health. 1992; 83: 46-50.

6. Piper MC, Darrah J. Motor Assessment of the Developing Infant. Philadelphia , PA: Saunders; 1994.

7. Van Wijk RM, Pelsma M, Croothuis-Oudshoorn C et al. Response to Pediatric Physical Therapy in Infants With Positional Preference and Skull Deformation. Phys Ther. 2014;94(9):1262-1271.

2 responses to “Alberta Infant Motor Scale (AIMS)”

  1. jjones75 says:

    As I scanned through some of the tests and measures reviewed on the blog, I was trying to think about our current patient for class and what outcome measure he would benefit from. So far, this test is the closest I’ve come to having an applicable test. My patient fits within the age range of this test and shows signs of developmental delay. Maybe this test could tell us more details about his developmental delay. On the other hand, I am wondering if will just tell us things we already know but it may give us a way to track improvement. I just did a quick search of this and found that it tends to have a ceiling effect in infants older than 9 months so I may have just decided that this may not be the best test ant measure for my patient of 14 months.
    By the way, the number of infants used in you research study blows my mind…thats a lot of babies!

  2. switherspoon says:

    Like Jesse I also scanned through a lot of the test and measures on this blog searching for an appropriate outcome measure for our patient. Our patient I believe is the youngest at 2 months of age, that has decreased motor function secondary to a brachial plexus injury. This test I believe would be a great way to objectively assess motor function in prone. supine, etc. and add that knowledge to our subjective observations and use this information to set appropriate goals for our patient.

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