Happy Physical Therapy Month! Everyday Tips and Tricks

Sorry for the lack of posts during this important month for physical therapists!

I first wanted to highlight a page on my main page that tells you all about what pediatric physical therapy is.

One of the main issues that I am concerned with as a pediatric physical therapist, is how parents can continue to practice the skills that I work on during our physical therapy sessions.  I always emphasize to parents that though I may work with their child 1-3 hours a week, they must continue practicing throughout the week in order to help their child reach their goals.   I also don’t like to overwhelm parents by giving them complicated activities that add to their busy days, so I try to come up with activities that they would encounter during a typical day.

So with that, I wanted to give some examples of how pediatric physical therapy activities are all around us!

 

PT activity: Body awareness and single leg balance training

Home activity: Walking around a room with toys and blankets on the floor 

How it relates: 

  • Your child will develop improved standing balance and body awareness as they walk around a room with lots of objects on the floor.
  • They will have to look down to monitor their foot placement to make sure they don’t step on toys.
  • They will have to spend time standing on 1 leg if they have to take a larger step over larger objects or rolled blankets

toys on floor

 

PT Activity: Dynamic standing balance walking in tandem (walking along a line 1 foot in front of the other)

Home Activity: Walking along any curbs you find!

How it relates: 

  • I love using curbs especially because they are all over the place!
  • Curbs that have grass on 1 side and the street on the other also provide good contrast to help your child pay attention to their foot placement
  • I still recommend being close to your child as they advance their balance
  • You can make this harder but placing cones or toys on the curb, encouraging your kiddo to step over them while keeping their balance

walking on curb

 

PT Activity: Stair training

Home Activity: Using Curbs or any Stairs Available

How it relates:

  • Though it’s self-explanatory, I cannot emphasize enough how important stairs/curbs are for improving a number of things.
  • Most parents are terrified of their child walking off a step/curb when they aren’t ready for it yet, so I place a lot of emphasis at increasing strength/balance/body awareness by practicing stairs/curbs and anything with edges
  • So I encourage parents to practice stairs/curbs any time there is an opportunity when they are out and about with their kiddos
  • Not only does practice help improve their awareness of edges, it also improves standing balance as they are forced to balance on 1 leg as they step up or down.
  • It also improves leg strength depending on how high the step is, so I encourage practicing on a variety of heights.

9096860-first-steps-of-education--kid-on-steps-made-of-books     

20130702_095143

 

PT Activity: Leg strength, balance, and ankle flexibility

Home activity: Walking up and down driveways/hills/ramps, uneven sidewalks

How it relates:

  • walking uphill and downhill works different muscles, thus providing overall leg strengthening
  • it also works on balance as the body has to react in different ways when walking up or downhill
  • it also provides real life practice since we rarely only walk on nice, flat surfaces 😉

 

walking uphill

 

PT Activity: Leg and Hip Strengthening

Home Activity: Cleaning up!

How it relates:

  • Squatting to pick up toys and put them away is a great way to strengthen hips and thigh muscles
  • Squatting also works on ankle balance and flexibility, depending on how far a child squats and in what direction they are reaching
  • Lifting objects from the floor also works on arm/shoulder and trunk strength
  • Carrying an object depending on its size and if you need to hold it with 1 or 2 hands will also challenge a child’s balance
  • Cleaning up is a great functional activity that a child can take ownership of
  • And of course, all parents will be grateful once their kiddo starts helping to clean up  😉

child picking up toys

 

Those are examples of a few activities I give parents to do during a typical day.  Are there other daily activities that other therapists like to incorporate into their patients’ days?   I plan to add daily activities in a school setting next week!

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Categories: Tips and Tricks Tuesdays

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  1. PT Corner: Everyday Tips and Tricks for PTs to Share with Parents | PediaStaff Pediatric SLP, OT and PT Blog

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