Starfish Therapies

May 25, 2012

Using a Hula Hoop for Weight Shifting

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 12:00 pm
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We are seeing several kiddos who have developmental coordination disorder and/or similar motor planning challenges and discovered that when we play weight shifting games on the Wii they are not able to motor plan the weight shift.  I will try to paint a visual for you – they will attempt to shift their weight to the right (or left) and in response to this they then bend their trunk so their head is going to the left (or right).  All this does is equalize out the weight on their feet again so no weight shifting occurs and nothing happens on the game.

I had tried having them weight shift on this small monkey balance board that we have and they were able to do it while keeping their head upright but as soon as I brought them back down to level ground, the compensatory trunk movements came back.

One day I was at a kiddo’s house and I saw a hula hoop lying there.  I decided what the heck, maybe this would help (also it changed things up just enough that she was intrigued by the idea).  I had her stand in the hula hoop and I held it stable at hip level for her with it resting lightly against her tush.  I then visually demonstrated (with sound effects) that I wanted her to move her hips side to side and ‘bump’ into the hula hoop.  She needed to look at the hula hoop to do it initially in order to have the visual and tactile feedback but eventually she was able to do it without looking.

When I told one of my other therapists that this had worked she used the same technique with her kiddos.  She was able to have success with it on flat ground and then keep the hula hoop in position while they played a game on the Wii and not only did the quality of movement improve for the weight shifting, but so did the scores on the game!  When she removed the hula hoop they weren’t able to maintain the improvement after only one session of practicing it.  Clearly we will need to do a mini experiment to see how many sessions it would take for carryover to happen (sorry, just another idea that popped into my head).

We did try it with one kiddo who has visual impairment and did not have the same results so we realized that the hula hoop definitely provides visual input as well as some tactile input from resting on the hips.

I’d love to hear if anyone has tried anything like this and how it has worked for you!



  1. Great idea. Sometimes those little external cues are step one in achieving the goal. Now once practiced, slowly remove and try in different environments. I have used small hula hoops in the same location but for a different reason – to establish proper personal space. For children with a lack of body awareness, holding the hula hoop around the waist, provides a visual cue of where they need to keep their body in space.

    Comment by Your Therapy Source — May 30, 2012 @ 1:01 am | Reply

  2. Great idea! Another idea for the Wii when working on weight shifts: have the child sit on a therapy ball with their feet on the balance board to play the game. They then have to lean shift side to side on the ball and the motor plan seems to be easier for them to find. I’ve had good success with carryover after 2-3 sessions when working on the ball and then transitioning to standing for the final trial.

    Comment by Jenny — August 2, 2012 @ 3:33 am | Reply

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