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AQUAFITNESS

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

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Keep your children active this summer season by using pool time for exercise. It’s fun, motivating, and a great way to stay fit. Join your child and make exercising fun for the whole family.

 

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Benefits

Water provides natural resistance, making it an excellent medium for building muscle strength and tone. It is effective as a cardiovascular workout, without placing stress on your body’s joints.

Aerobic activities with fun equipment

  • Water Relays:
    • Walk across the pool with huge monster steps
    • Walk backwards
    • Sideways shuffle around the perimeter of the pool
  • Pool Noodle games:
    • “Jump” rope forwards and backwards
    • Straddle the noodle like a horse, and race to the other side of the pool
    • Hold one noodle in each hand parallel to your body to create a “motorboat.” Turn it on by kicking with your legs
  • Kickboards:
    • Kick hard across the pool while resting chest and arms on the kickboard
    • On your back, hold the kickboard with both hands and flutter
  • Aquajoggers:
    • “Jog” in the pool (body vertical in the water) with your legs, while pulling the water towards you with alternating hands
    • Jog while holding a noodle above your head like a rainbow
    • While vertical in the water, hold a water barbell in each hand and do jumping jacks

Safety Tips

  • Be sure that your child can touch the bottom of the pool comfortable to stand up for a break when necessary
  • Use sun block liberally and re-apply regularly
  • Drink lots of water. Although your child is in the water, he/she will still need to drink frequently
This entry was posted on Thursday, June 16th, 2016 and is filed under Gross Motor Activities, Seasonal Tips.

Use Pool-Time to Heighten Body Awareness

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

It is amazing how many sensory opportunities for heightening body awareness arise before, during and after pool time. I discover more every time I swim (especially during an aqua OT session)! Keep in mind, this is not about perfecting strokes. Our goal here is body awareness. Improving motor skills in the pool will be addressed in another blog.

Here are a few ideas to get you going:

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1. Start with Sunscreen. Aside from being a critical life skill, applying sunscreen provides tactile input all over the body. Make sure to label each limb and body part as you apply sunscreen, e.g., “Now lets do your right arm.” Turn it into a massage to provide calming, deep pressure. This is a great way to prepare the child that might be nervous about getting in the pool.

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2. Jump In! The sensation of flying through space (vestibular input), followed by the impact of crashing into water (deep pressure) ramps up body awareness and alertness. If you don’t believe me, try it. For your more advanced swimmers, diving in kicks it up a notch. Whenever the head is upside down, the vestibular system gets super powerful input, letting your body know where it is in space and how it is moving in relation to gravity.

The girl smiles, swimming under water in the pool

 

3. Swim & Play. Moving through water in ANY way heightens body awareness by providing consistent deep pressure all over the body, and proprioceptive input as muscles contract to resist the pressure of the water in order to move. How simple is that? All you need to do is bring your children to the pool and let them play, and already they are getting key body awareness input!

Ramp it up by encouraging hand-stands, somersaults, log rolling and a variety of strokes (side, back, front). This will add in that awesome vestibular input, an essential body awareness ingredient.

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4. For Your Non-Swimmers. Kicking and splashing in the water while sitting on the pool steps, or walking through the shallow end counts as movement through water! Remember, water pressure + muscles working against resistance = body awareness. You can’t get your child as far as the steps? No worries, dump and fill lots of buckets with water to get that proprioceptive input.

5. Some Specific Games.

a. Catch the Rings. You will need pool rings. Drop a bunch of rings in the water for swimmers, on the steps for non-swimmers. Give instructions for how many rings to collect and how to get them. e.g., Get 2 rings on your right arm and 1 ring on your left foot. Start simple, and don’t use “left” and “right” in the instructions if your child is not ready.

b. The Whistle Game. You will need a whistle. Make a “whistle code” that is appropriate for your child’s pool skills and sequencing skills. For example: 1 whistle = jump in, 2 whistles = kick to other side of pool using kick-board, 3 whistles = handstand, etc. You can start with single whistle instructions, and work your way up to longer and longer sequences.

c. The Dolphin Game. Set up one or more hula hoops in the water. You can have hoops at a variety of depths if your child can surface dive. The goal is to get through the hoop/s without any part of the body hitting the hoop (this is the part that challenges sense of body position in space).

Swimming: Mother Drying Off Child After Swim Time

6. Drying Off. Lets hear it for more tactile/deep pressure input! For children who lack the body awareness to dress independently and efficiently, here is a last dose of body awareness input to help meet that dressing challenge. Use the towel to firmly dry off each part of the body. Just as you did with the sunscreen, label each limb as you dry.

Happy Splashing!

Submitted by: Ariela Warburg Harcsztark, MA, OTR/L

This entry was posted on Monday, June 2nd, 2014 and is filed under Gross Motor Activities, Seasonal Tips, Sensory Processing.

Reap the Benefits of OT in the Pool at POTS

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

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Strengthening: Negotiating the water requires your child to use all of his/her muscles. Your child’s core, arms and legs, will become stronger while playing against the resistance naturally provided by the water.

Coordination: Swimming requires a lot of coordination! While each stroke is different, they all require simultaneous movement from your child’s arms and legs in many different combinations: symmetrical, asymmetrical, in-phase, out-of-phase, contralateral and ipsilateral. As your child moves through the water using arms and/or legs with various fun floatation devices, he/she will learn how to coordinate multiple movements in multiple body parts at the same time, which is fundamental to coordination and motor planning.

Sensory input: Swimming is a great way to get a lot of powerful sensory input in a short amount of time. The water itself provides deep pressure input to the whole body at once. The constant sensation of the water can help to decrease the tactile hypersensitivity that your child may experience out of the water. The water also provides proprioceptive input, which boosts body awareness and the sense of body position in space. Changing the position of your child’s head when swimming on the back, front, side, vertically and under water provides vestibular input, which also contributes to the sense of body position in space. Touch, proprioception and vestibular input are the building blocks of motor planning.

Social skills and communication: Eye contact and vocalization are often enhanced because of the sensory properties of the water and the natural boundaries of the pool.

Contact us at chaye@potsot.com or call our office at 201-837 9993 to explore whether pool-based occupational therapy is appropriate for your child.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 and is filed under Boost Gross Motor Coordination & Rhythmicity, Gross Motor Activities, Seasonal Tips, Uncategorized.

7 Reason to Climb UP the Slide

Monday, May 19th, 2014

7 Reasons to Climb UP the Slide

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Climbing up the slide is right up there with other age-old controversial parenting issues. Here are seven reasons why you should encourage your child to indulge.

  1. Climbing up the slide strengthens the arms, legs and trunk
  2. The sensation of heavy work improves body awareness
  3. Figuring out how to turn around and slide down is a great motor planning activity
  4. Alternating arms to climb up improves reciprocal movement
  5. Children learn how to use their bodies and interact with the physical environment by experimenting and taking risks. The playground is the perfect (and one of the only opportunities) for this
  6. Figuring out who goes up or down the slide first is a great opportunity for negotiation and social interaction
  7. It’s so much fun to defy gravity (and the rules!)

Now, to address the danger issue: technically, climbing the ladder to the slide is more “dangerous.” It requires more balance and coordination to climb using two feet than it does to crawl on all fours. Most toddlers can climb up a slide, but not all can climb the stairs. Additionally, tumbling from the steps takes you straight down to the ground. Falling down the slope of a slide is far gentler.

 

This entry was posted on Monday, May 19th, 2014 and is filed under Gross Motor Activities, Infants & Toddlers, Parenting, Sensory Integration, Sensory Processing.

POTS Gross Motor Infographic

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Presenting….. our second infographic!

GROSS MOTOR DEVELOPMENT

Enjoy!

Click here for a printable-version

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 9th, 2014 and is filed under Gross Motor Activities, Parenting.

Pool Toy Review: Swim Thru Rings

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Swimming season is here! As you stock your pool with toys, keep in mind that the pool is a great place for developing your child’s strength, coordination, motor planning and socialization. Use this opportunity to buy pool toys that will challenge your child’s skills in a fun, creative, and interactive way.

What are Swim Thru Rings?

Swim Thru Rings are collapsible vertical floating rings. Air chambers connected to each ring are adjustable, allowing you to set rings at different depths. Each pack contains three rings.

What games can I play with them?

  • “Blast Off”: Start at the side of the pool and use legs to push off and glide through rings. Start with one ring and gradually increase the challenge by adding rings or placing rings father from the wall. Gliding through water provides controlled vestibular input. Vestibular input from gliding together with hydrostatic pressure provided by water and proprioceptive input from kicking off the wall heightens sense of body position in space and enhances motor planning.
  • Obstacle course: To bolster sequencing skills and spatial awareness, include swimming through rings in a pool obstacle course. Incorporate obstacles that require moving over, under and through.
  • Aim underwater torpedoes: Challenge visual perception skills but aiming and shooting underwater torpedoes through hoops. This requires eye-hand coordination, pressure modulation and motor control.

For information on occupational therapy sessions in the pool, click here

Submitted by: Ariela Harcsztark, OTR/L

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 27th, 2013 and is filed under Gross Motor Activities, POTS Favorite Toy Ideas, Seasonal Tips, Sensory Integration.

Unwinding After School

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Children who have compelling sensory needs they have managed to sublimate all day will most likely need a physical workout after school to feed their sensory systems, either to calm down and reorganize, or to raise their level of alertness in order to focus on homework. A 5-10 minute intense goal-oriented “workout” with a clear beginning and end is best for children who need vestibular, proprioceptive, or deep touch pressure input. The trick is to help your child find a routine that works best for him/her.

Resistive activities (proprioceptive input) that also provide some movement through space (vestibular input) are “grounding” and organizing because they incorporate “heavy work”. Engaging in these types of activities can ease the transition to homework. Activities that provide high proprioceptive with low vestibular input include:

  • “Pushing out the wall”: Have your child stand facing the wall with two open palms on the wall, at shoulder level. Take two small steps backward and challenge your child to imagine making the room bigger by pushing out the wall.

  • Bicycle riding, scooter riding

  • Jumping rope

  • Jumping on a trampoline for a set amount of time. Develop a routine that incorporates a variety of movements

  • Soft, gentle bouncing while sitting on an inflatable therapy ball

  • Play tug-of-war with a jump rope.  Try it sitting, on knees, and standing

  • Play catch with a weighted ball (“medicine” ball).

  • Push/pull heavy items such as a laundry basket, a vacuum, a heavy shopping cart, a weighted doll carriage, etc.

Helpful Hint: Avoid activities that are difficult for your child to leave when the time is up.

Blog submitted by: Aviva Goldwasser, OTR/L

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 and is filed under Getting Ready for School, Gross Motor Activities, Parenting.

Gross Motor Dice Roll

Monday, January 7th, 2013

The cold winter weather poses a challenge to playing outdoors, and not many parents are keen about having their children use the house as an indoor gym. This DIY game gets your children moving in an organized manner and lets them practice building their gross motor skills in a fun way. It is simple to create, and offers portability, so you can take it with you when your family is on the go.

To make your own dice, you will need two over-sized plush or inflated dice. On each of the 6 sides of one die, assign a different gross motor activity such as: jumping, hopping, skipping, galloping, stride jumps, jumping jacks, crab walking and frog jumping. When the die is rolled, whichever activity is facing up needs to be done. Feel free to use any gross motor activity or movement that you feel would benefit your child or that your therapist has suggested for your child’s home program. For children who do not yet read, use a picture to depict each activity.

Roll the second die to determine how many repetitions of each activity should be done. One way to make the activity more challenging is by adjusting the repetitions. For instance, you may begin by having your child do their activity one time for each dot on the dice (i.e. if a 6 is rolled, your child will jump 6 times). Then, to increase the challenge, each dot on the dice can represent 2,3,4 or 5 times that the motor activity should be done (i.e. if a 6 is rolled, your child will jump 30 times).

Be sure to take turns! If you are part of the process the game will be fun, rather than “homework.”

Blog written by: Aviva Goldwasser, MS, OTR/L & Chaye Lamm Warburg, DPS,    Director of POTS
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This entry was posted on Monday, January 7th, 2013 and is filed under Boost Gross Motor Coordination & Rhythmicity, Gross Motor Activities, Parenting, Seasonal Tips.