Have you ever wondered how the equipment in the gym is therapeutic? How does time “playing” in the gym relate to your child’s goals? Not only is the gym equipment fun for kids, it’s also useful for improving a variety of developmental skills. We have highlighted a few of our favorite “work out” activities that we use to help kids get stronger, improve coordination and achieve a calm body and mind. Read on to learn how the occupational therapists at Stepping Stones use this equipment during your child’s session.
Many of the OTs at Stepping Stones begin their session by having their client write their daily schedule on the chalkboard. Writing on a vertical surface promotes:
· Proper hand position: the wrist and fingers are supported for precise writing movements.
· A tripod grasp for improved handwriting skills.
· Handwriting skills (practicing letter formation, memory, legibility).
· Hand strength (squeezing a water bottle to clean off chalk).
· Crossing midline (wiping down the chalkboard, drawing large objects).
· Sequencing skills (following a schedule and directions).
Lycra Layers Hammock
The lycra layers hammock is a favorite with the kiddos here at Stepping Stones with therapeutic benefits:
· Improving balance, posture, and whole body strengthening.
· Providing proprioceptive input, or deep pressure to the muscles and joints, promoting improved sensory regulation.
· Practice of motor planning skills (crawling through each layer).
Swings are a fun way to improve sensory regulation, whether swinging back and forth (linear movement) or spinning (Rotary movement). While swinging, the child:
· Receives calming or alerting vestibular input (the sense affecting a child’s balance and movement).
· Can practice visual motor skill (throwing bean bags at a target)
· Improves arm strength (pulling on a rope)
· Improves trunk extension and shoulder stability (laying on stomach while swinging).
· Improves core strength, posture, and balance reactions (seated while swinging).
The monkey bars are great for improving upper body strength and motor planning skills. Grabbing each bar helps to open the “web space” of the hand, promoting improved pencil grip for handwriting. Crossing the monkey bars is also great “heavy work” for the child!
Climbing the rock wall promotes a variety of skills including:
· Hand, finger, and upper body strength (this is important for improved handwriting!).
· Motor planning and sequencing (in order to climb and descend the wall).
· Visual-motor and problem-solving skills (creating “challenges” for client: only using specific colors).
· The rock wall is another way to get “heavy work” in for the child.
The bosu ball is often used at our clinic to promote:
· Improved balance and core strength
· Improved hand-eye coordination
· Sensory processing
The occupational therapists often set up these activities in an “obstacle course.” This is a great way for our clients to practice essential skills such as:
· Following directions
· Working memory
· Impulse control
· Social skills (taking turns, following directions, conversation skills)
These pieces of equipment are just a few of our favorites at Stepping Stones Therapy Network. If you ever have any questions about any of the other pieces of equipment, feel free to ask!