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You might occasionally think of yourself as "clumsy" if you often bump into furniture or drop things. Clumsiness is defined as poor coordinatio...

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What Is Clumsiness?

Clumsiness is characterized by motor coordination problems with daily activities.

Alternative Names

Awkward, awkwardness, can’t control movements, clumsiness syndrome, clumsy.


Clumsiness is a common problem in otherwise healthy children with normal intelligence. Motor coordination problems may affect the ability to perform age-appropriate activities, like dressing and running. Clumsy children may be at risk for academic and social problems. A child who has difficulties performing in sports and social situations may experience low self-esteem. Clumsy children may appear restless due to difficulties balancing and stabilizing their bodies. Clumsy children may present with poor muscle tone and posture. Working with teachers and psychotherapists to identify and treat stress, anxiety, and victimization will help improve developmental outcomes long term.

In adults, clumsiness is most often acquired. It may reflect an underlying medical problem. Difficulty with vision or the middle ear many manifest itself as clumsiness, as may the onset of neurological diseases or other medical problems with neurological components.

Associated Diagnoses

Associated diagnoses include:

  • brain tumor
  • autism
  • alcohol withdrawal delirium
  • hypothermia
  • epilepsy
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • head injury
  • multiple sclerosis
  • alcoholism
  • brain cancer
  • developmental coordination disorder
  • encephalitis
  • Reye’s syndrome
  • schizophrenia
  • seizures
  • marijuana dependence
  • stroke
  • opioid dependence
  • side effects of medications
  • Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome
  • Huntington’s chorea
  • restless legs syndrome

Diagnosis and Treatment

A thorough evaluation by a doctor is required for clumsiness. They may then give you a referral to an occupational therapist and a multidisciplinary pediatric team. Clumsiness that is a symptom or complication of other medical disorders may be treated with occupational and physical therapy. The treatment will depend on the diagnosis.

When To Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you are showing signs of clumsiness or if you have seen signs of clumsiness in your child that are not attributed to a known cause or that cannot be easily explained.

Written by: Valencia Higuera
Edited by:
Medically Reviewed by:
Published: Dec 16, 2016
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.
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