3 Therapy Tools to Build Core Strength

3 Therapy Tools to Build Core Strength

Spring often means more outdoor play! Help your child build core strength for confident, skilled play using the same therapy tools as your child’s therapist. Below are therapy tool descriptions and activity ideas from TheraPLACE therapists.

Large Exercise BallCute little girl sitting on large exercise ball.

How can a large exercise ball help build core strength? By supporting your child’s hips on a dynamic surface, you ensure she/he must activate core muscles to remain sitting upright.
Age suggestion: 1-5 years (or as long as their feet can not reach the ground)
Activity Ideas:
Bounce Play: Sit your child on top of the ball and provide support at the hips (for greater stability) or at their knees (for a greater core strength challenge), then you are ready to go! Bounce them, move the ball slightly side to side, and then in all directions to challenge them to keep from falling over.
Sit Ups: Sit your child on top of the ball, supporting at the hips or upper legs, have them slowly fall back so they are laying over the ball belly up. At this point ask her/him to grab a bean bag or small stuffed animal placed behind the ball and pull back to sitting (make a crunch motion). Praise and repeat!
Where can I buy this? Most retail stores like Walmart and Target carry this item, or you can purchase it online.
Average cost? $15-$40

 

T-stoolBoy sitting on t-stool playing on ipad.

How can a t-stool help build core strength? This therapy tool is essentially an adjustable chair with only one leg. Your child must work to balance on this seating device while feet are planted on the floor with hips, knees, and ankles at a right angle (90/90/90).
Age suggestion for use:
3-10 years (consider weight limit)
Activity Ideas:
Grab N’ Balance: Ask your child to sit on the t-stool (you may have to hold it upright for them until they get their feet planted). You can hold rings or bean bags overhead and to the sides to encourage core muscle activation as she/he reaches outside of her/his base of support to grab each object.
Core Strength during Tablet Play: Ask your child to sit on the t-stool (you may have to hold it upright for them until they get their feet planted) while they play their preferred i-Pad/tablet game. This way they are working on core strength as they play, much better than sitting on the couch!
Where can I buy this? You can purchase it online from Amazon or therapy tool websites like https://funandfunction.com.
Average cost? $45-$100 

 

Bosu “Ball”Little girl sitting on bosu ball, playing with balloon.

How can a Bosu ball help build core strength? This piece of exercise equipment is great for adults and children alike. A Bosu can help to work on many areas including balance, trunk control, strength, endurance, motor planning, and body awareness. A Bosu is flat on the bottom and round on the top; it can be used either with the flat side down on the floor or with the round side on the floor.
Age suggestion for use: 1 year to adult (consider weight limit)
Activity Ideas:
•Balloon Volleyball: Have your child stand on the flat side of the bosu ball while bopping a balloon back and forth. See how long you and your child can keep the balloon in the air before it hits the ground and/or before your child loses balance.
•Play Catch: Have your child stand on the flat side of the bosu ball and toss a ball back and forth. You can use a variety of size/weighted balls. By mixing it up, your child’s center of gravity will stay challenged.
•Reaching Across Midline: Have you child sit cross-legged on the rounded or flat side while reaching for preferred toys on the right and left side with opposite hand, reaching across their body.
Where can I buy this? You can purchase a bosu ball online from Amazon or a store that sells exercise equipment. You may even be able to find one used.
Average cost? $100

**Special thanks to Arabella on the large therapy ball, John Mark on the T-stool, and Hadley on the Bosu ball for modeling our TheraPLACE therapy tools so well!**

Morgan’s Dreams

Morgan's Dreams

Morgan's Dreams specializes in handmade weighted blankets and lap pads. Each item is constructed with love by the owner, Andrea Frazier of Charlestown, IN.  When sharing information about Morgan’s Dreams with us, Andrea explained that three years ago, she was “just a mom desperately needing a natural tool to help her daughter Morgan sleep better”.  Morgan, the company's namesake, was born with Cerebral Palsy and her sleep patterns were very unpredictable.  After doing research and consulting with several occupational therapists for a natural way to improve Morgan's sleeping pattern,  Andrea realized a weighted blanket might be the right option and decided to make one for Morgan.  According to Andrea's website, "The very first night of using the weighted blanket something amazing happened...she slept all night!!" Soon word of Morgan's story traveled the area and Andrea was making blankets for friends and family members. As the demand for Andrea's reasonably priced, high quality weighted blanket increased, Morgan's Dreams was born!

Here is some basic information about Morgan’s Dreams weighted blankets:

  • Top Fabric: 100% cotton fabric of your choice
  • Bottom Fabric: soft minky bottom fabric of your choice  
  • Care: can be washed and dried
  • Filling: non-toxic, smooth plastic pellet called Poly Pellets
Boy sitting with weighted blanket over shoulders.

Special thanks to Aleem for modeling our weighted blanket during an OT session!

Morgan's Dreams weighted blankets are available in  3 main sizes: small, medium and large.  Small weighted blankets are $85.00 and measure 28x40 inches.  Medium weighted blankets are $122.00 and measure 32x52 inches.  Large weighted blankets are $160.00 and measure 38x70 inches.  Custom sizes are available upon request.  

In addition to weighted blankets, Andrea makes weighted lap pads. Lap pads are $30.00 and measure 18x21 inches.  Lap pads are commonly used at school, during homework time or while in the car.  

The weight placed in all weighted blankets is customized to the user.  The general rule followed is 10% of the user’s body weight plus 1 pound.  It is not recommended to use a weighted blanket heavier than these proportions.  Andrea stands by this  guideline to ensure customers have a quality and safe blanket.  

How Can a Weighted Blanket Help?  

A weighted blanket can help you sleep through the night, ease anxiety and stress, and improve focus.  Weighted blankets provide deep pressure therefore promoting the production of serotonin and endorphins, which are the chemicals our body naturally use to feel relaxed and calm.  Weighted blankets provide proprioceptive input to the body therefore making us feel grounded and secure.  Weighted blankets have been known to help the following conditions: ADD/ADHD, anxiety, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, insomnia, restless legs syndrome and Sensory Processing Disorder, just to name a few.  

TheraPLACE owns a small weighted blanket purchased from Morgan’s Dreams that is used during therapy. If you are interested in this product please ask your child's occupational therapist about trialing it. 

For more information about weighted blankets, visit Andrea’s website at www.morgansdreams.com. You can follow her on Facebook at Morgan’s Dreams.

Andrea can be emailed at morgansdreams1@yahoo.com for any further questions or to place an order. Orders may be placed on her website, by Facebook message, or by email. Make sure to mention you saw this article on our website:)

Understanding Your Child’s Sensory System

Understanding Your Child's Sensory System

We all experience the world through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. We also use two more senses that aren’t talked about as often: proprioception (awareness of your body in space) and the vestibular sense (the inner ear processes information about movement, gravity, and balance). Each sense is not experienced equally. For example, if your child seeks sensory input in one category that does not necessarily mean they will seek input in other categories the same way. Some people react when just a little stimulus is given and others need a lot of stimuli to react.

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Spring Sensory Slime

Spring Sensory Slime

This unseasonably warm weather has us wanting to jump ahead to the next season! Get ready for spring with our DIY spring sensory slime recipe. Not only is it fun, making sensory slime with your child creates opportunities to practice reading, following directions, simple math skills, measuring and pouring, and impulse control. This activity is perfect for working toward decreasing tactile sensory aversions through a novel texture.

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Child’s Sensory System

Understanding Your Child's Sensory System

We all experience the world through sight, sound, smell, taste, and  touch. We also use two more senses that aren’t talked about as often: proprioception (awareness of your body in space) and the vestibular sense (the inner ear processes information about movement, gravity, and balance).  Each sense is not experienced equally.  For example, if your child seeks sensory input in one category that does not necessarily mean they will seek input in other categories the same way.  Some people react when just a little stimulus is given and others need a lot of stimuli to react.

Sensory System Chart

Dr. Winnie Dunn is an occupational therapist who has researched how children react to sensory stimulation. Dr. Dunn has discovered that children have different thresholds to sensory stimulation. The word threshold refers to the point at which a child will respond to sensory information (Dunn, 1999).  Dr. Dunn says that children with difficulty processing sensory information from the environment might have one of the four types of responses described in the chart above.

Once you have identified how your child perceives sensory input you can adjust sensory experiences to help your child learn to self regulate. This support may take many forms including decreased lighting, soothing music, fast swinging, necklaces for chewing, wheelbarrow walking, or making homemade slime.  If you have any specific questions you can contact one of TheraPLACE’s credentialed Occupational Therapists. Occupational therapists are trained in understanding the sensory system and partnering with parents to come up with a “sensory diet” individual to each child.

*Source of chart above: http://www.tinkthings.com/#products

Valentine’s Day Craft

Valentine's Day Craft

Warm your hearts and hands by making a sweet Valentine’s Day banner this month.  This activity allows your child to practice fine motor precision and hand/eye coordination while building hand strength. 

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Valentine’s Craft 2017

Valentine's Day Craft

Warm your hearts and hands by making a sweet Valentine’s Day banner this month.  This activity allows your child to practice fine motor precision and hand/eye coordination while building hand strength. 

Boy holding Valentine's heart banner.Materials Needed:

  • Yarn in Valentine's Colors
  • Scissors
  • Colored Paper in Valentine's Colors
  • Pen, Pencil, Crayon, or Marker
  • Handheld Hole Punch
  • Clear Tape

Provides Opportunity to Practice:

  • Fine Motor Precision
  • Hand/Eye Coordination
  • Hand Strength

Directions:

  1. Trace or draw hearts on colored paper.
  2. Cut out hearts with scissors.
  3. Make a small “x” near the top of each heart.
  4. Use the hole punch to make a hole right over the “x”.
  5. Thread the yarn through the hearts.
  6. Ta da! Hang up over a doorway, window, or on the wall.

Up for a challenge? Try this:

  • Use the hole punch to make letters in each of the hearts (i.e. L-0-V-E).
  • Cut out hearts with a scalloped edge.
  • Cut out smaller hearts.

Your child’s therapist “grades” or increases/decreases the difficulty of tasks to make the just right challenge for each kid. Try this at home ☺
***Thank you to Jordan for modeling this month’s activity with a big smile! ***

Team TheraPLACE is looking for team members for the 2017 Louisville Polar Plunge!

Cartoon Polar Bear Diving into Water (January 11, 2017) – TheraPLACE Learning Center is pleased to announce its participation in the 2017 Polar Plunge supporting Special Olypmics Kentucky (SOKY). This is the first year for our participation and Team TheraPLACE is looking for team members. To join us in Taking the Plunge or to make a donation, please click on the following link, http://2017louisvilleplunge.kintera.org/teamtheraplace

The Polar Plunge is one of the biggest Special Olympics fundraisers of the year. The Special Olympics is the world’s largest program of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Participation is open to individuals eight years of age or older. If you would like to know more about Special Olympics Kentucky, please click on this link, http://soky.org/