Starfish Therapies

August 15, 2012

Body Awareness and Proprioception – A Brief Glimpse

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 4:04 pm
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So after 3 weeks of keeping my left hip from turning out I am finally allowed to.  Since my legs tend to turn out on their own I was being extra careful over these last 3 weeks by either actively holding it straight or making it turn in (since it was allowed to turn in as much as it wanted).  Well today when I let it turn out for the first time I was still lying in bed and couldn’t see my feet.  I was actually excited because I felt like it had turned out almost as far as my other foot had.  This was good because it meant the pain and soreness I was expecting that would go along with stretching wasn’t going to be there.  Well imagine my surprise when I finally looked at my feet and they were nowhere even close to being the same.

What does this mean?  Well besides it meaning that I will actually have to do stretching it also means that because of 3 weeks of keeping my foot turned in, my body’s sense of where it is and where midline is became skewed.  To my brain (when not looking) my feet felt the same.  It wasn’t until I added the visual input that I could see that wasn’t correct.  I was amazed at this because it gave me a whole new insight into the kids I work with.

I have always intellectually understood that a kiddo may not have a good idea of where their body was in space, or not realize where midline was because they were so used to being in a position that wasn’t midline.  However, this was the first time that I experienced it.  Now granted, mine is small compared to some of the kids but it is just one more insight into some of the challenges they have to overcome for movement.

As I retrain my brain and body the proprioceptive input in my hip joint will realign so that they send a message to my brain that matches what I am seeing.   I’m sure it won’t happen overnight but it should happen relatively quickly since its only been 3 weeks.  What about those kiddos that have torticollis and have held their heads turned towards one side for months, or the kiddos that are always lying down or in a reclined position.  They are going to need a lot more assist with learning where midline is and where their body is in relation to the world around them.

I hope this helps to give a slight glimpse into what some of our kiddos are trying to figure out.

February 1, 2012

DIY Weighted Lap Bag


I have a feeling I’ll be posting more things from now on that the OT’s I work with come up with because they get to do make all the fun things!  Also they like to tell me about the things they make and/or do so that I can write about them.  This is a project that was started a year ago, got lost in piles along the way, and rediscovered and completed this past weekend.

Many kids do better when they get the sensory input provided by a weighted object.  Often this can look like a weighted vest or a weighted blanket.  An easy way to make your own is to buy a stuffingless toy for a dog and take the squeaker out (or a stuffed one and take the stuffing and squeaker out).  Then fill it with aquarium rocks, beans, rice, etc to provide the weight.  Sew up the end and voila you have your own sensory tool.

Weighted lap bags can provide isolated proprioceptive input for kiddos who have trouble sitting still.  You can use it on their laps when they are sitting at their desk, at the table for eating or even when they are sitting on the floor for circle time.  It can also provide input in other areas such as draped over the shoulders.  However if you have a kiddo that has challenges with posture, this is not a good recommendation for them as it can enhance their postural difficulties.  Another use is it can be used  as a transitional item for kids. It gives them some weight to hold onto when going from place to place and can help to ground them during transitions which can be challenging for some kiddos.

Since it was newly completed it was exciting to use it with some of the kiddos during therapy that benefit from the input this tool can provide.  One of the cool side benefits was that it provides great tactile input as well.  One of the kiddos sat petting the stuffed animal while it sat on his lap and he did his work.  He was able to access both the weighted/proprioceptive input as well as the tactile input he needed in order to organize himself so that he could effectively work.

It make take a little playing with to get the correct weight and flexibility for your kiddo.  The more beans, rice or rocks you add to the body, the heavier and less flexible it becomes.

I hope you have as much fun as we did creating your weighted, furry friends!

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