Early Moves

Project overview

The Early Moves Project aims to understand the link between very young babies’ movement patterns, called 'general movements' and later development.

These general movements are over 90% accurate in detecting motor problems in babies such as cerebral palsy, but we now believe they may also predict other developmental disorders including cognitive impairment and autism spectrum disorder.

Understanding this link will help us to better understand how to recognise developmental difficulties early so that in the future we can develop and provide support and intervention during the critical period of brain development in the first year of life, when babies’ brains are most able to benefit.

Early Moves will follow 3,000 West Australian infants born between 2019 and 2024 and track their development in the first 2 years of life. The project is recruiting from two study sites: St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospitals and Joondalup Health Campus, as a subproject of the ORIGINS Project.


Project aims

  • To determine the diagnostic value of general movements for cognitive delay and autism spectrum disorder at 2 years old
  • To develop automated assessment for general movement using machine learning
  • To develop screening algorithms for identification of children at risk of cognitive impairment using the general movement assessment and routinely collected data
  • Conduct a cost evaluation for general movement implementation
  • To assess relationship between cognitive status at age 2 years, and health care utilisation, medical costs and caregiver burden.


  • November 2019: Recruitment commences through the ORIGINS project at Joondalup Health Campus
  • December 2019: General Movement assessments commence
  • August 2021: Recruitment commences at St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospital
  • November 2021: Two-year-old developmental assessments commence
  • December 2023: Recruitment completed at both sites
  • March 2024: General Movement assessments are completed
  • December 2025: Two-year-old developmental assessments completed

Project researchers

Early Moves is co-led by Prof Jane Valentine Kids Rehab WA at Perth Children’s Hospital and Prof Catherine Elliott at Curtin University’s School of Allied Health. The project is a collaborative effort between Perth Children’s Hospital, Curtin University, and researchers at leading local and national institutions. Our project partners are all listed below.

PCH researchers

Early Moves research team

  • Professor Jane Valentine (MBBS, FRACP, PhD) – Co-lead investigator
  • Professor Catherine Elliott (PhD) – Co-lead investigator
  • Associate Professor Alison Salt (MBBS, FRACP) – Investigator
  • Caroline Alexander (PhD) – Research Fellow
  • Sarah Hall (PhD) – Research Fellow
  • Ashleigh Thornton (PhD) – Research Fellow

Administration and Operations team

  • Jodi Gallon – Participant Engagement Officer
  • Montana Pearce – Participant Engagement Officer
  • Kirstin Pascoe – Early Moves Project Officer
  • Brooke Sanderson  – Operations Manager
  • Sue-Anne Davidson – Kids Rehab WA Manager
  • Tiffany Grisbrook – Kids Rehab WA Research Manager

Early Moves is grateful for valuable contributions from the Early Moves Clinical Working Party, the clinical teams at Joondalup Health Campus and St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospitals, the ORIGINS consumer reference group and the Kids Rehab WA consumer group.


Research partners

  • Telethon Kids Institute
  • Joondalup Health Campus
  • St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospitals
  • University of Melbourne
  • The University of Queensland
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Western Australia
  • Griffith University
  • Deakin University
  • Mater Research
  • University of New South Wales
  • Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
  • Australasian Cerebral Palsy Clinical Trials Network

Funding partners

  • National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Curtin University
  • Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation
  • Mineral Resources Limited
  • West Australian Child Research Fund
  • Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Research and funding partner logos for Early Moves project

Last Updated: 12/01/2023