- Abilities First
Physical Therapy Tips
Physical Therapy (PT) has many benefits for children and adults of all ages and circumstances. Motivating your child to actively engage PT in a home setting can be a challenge. The professionals at Abilities First have developed this series of tools:
- Children love to play games. PT by itself seems a lot like work.
- Develop games that involve movements that mimic the requirements of your child’s PT program. If your child is playing a game, they are much more motivated to participate in “PT like” activities.
- Involve siblings and friends. After all, you play games with others.
- Create a list of 6 fun games. Hang on wall and number them. Have child roll the dice. The number rolled determines the game. Roll dice again to determine frequency.
- Reward your child’s good effort by allowing them to play their favorite game – the reward doesn’t have to be PT related.
Fun Games (Secret PT)
- Pop the Bubbles – Get out a bottle of bubbles. Have your child stand on one foot and pop the bubbles with the other foot before they hit the ground. Pop 10 bubbles and then switch feet. Repeat 3 times. Helps to improve balance.
- Bear Walking – Make believe you are a bear and walk on all fours (hands and feet, not knees). Walk across the room; make it a race. Repeat 5 times. Stretches hamstrings. Make up other animals just for fun (for variety) and then return to bear: jump like a frog, hop like a bunny etc
- Sticker Hunting – Purchase a variety of stickers that can be placed on the borders of your child’s foot. Position the stickers so that the ankle has to be moved (up/down or in/out) in order to see the sticker. The parent calls out the sticker to be found and the child moves their foot to reveal the sticker. Repeat up/down motions 5x. Repeat in/out motions 5x. Increases flexibility in ankle.
- Stomp the Pillow – The child steps into the center of a squishy pillow and is then thrown a ball (or balloon) and throws it back without stepping off of the pillow. Repeat 10x. Improves balance reactions, ankle and foot strengthening.
- Open Sesame! – With child in a standing position, instruct them to lift one foot off of the floor when you say “Open Sesame! (ses-ah-mee)”. As they lift their foot, a secret passage is revealed and you run your hand (toy truck, train, animal) along the floor underneath their foot. Be sure they don’t close the passage while your hand is in there! Repeat 5x and switch feet. Encourages ankle dorsiflexion (foot up toward face).
- Hip-Hop-Scotch – Crisscross two pieces of 3 foot masking tape on the floor. Your child faces you while standing in one of the four quadrants formed by the tape. You call out directions: Forward/Sideways/Backward/Diagonal. The child jumps with two feet in the direction instructed. Give 10 instructions. Repeat 2 times. Works with thighs/calves and improves balance.
- Elevator Boy / Elevator Girl – Your child is in control of the elevator and getting the people who ride it to the floor they want to go to. Place a series of stickers vertically in clear space on a wall. Your child stands with their back against the wall and next to the stickers. You call out what floor (sticker) that you want the elevator to go to. The child begins to squat to lower the elevator while keeping their back against the wall. Move the elevator up and down 5 times. Repeat 2 times. Strengthens legs and midrange quads.
BONUS PT TIP
- Dancing Giants – Play music that your child enjoys and start dancing together as if you were giants (Lifting knees high with big steps). After 60 seconds, then dance as if you were dainty little fairies. Continue to change by using your favorite characters...cat, dog, snake, monster, cartoon character. Dance for 5 minutes. A more advanced version of this is the Just Dance game for the Wii. Builds endurance.
- While watching TV with your child, use the commercial breaks to do stretching exercises together. Not only will you get better compliance, you will also feel better by the end of the commercials!