A Healthy Start to 2012: Featuring Expertise from a Pediatric Physical Therapist

With a new year just around the corner, many people are likely reflecting on the past year and thinking ahead to goals and resolutions for the next. One important topic to consider is physical health. What better time to begin a fresh fitness regime for the whole family than the start of a new year?boy eating hamburger

Childhood Weight Statistics:

The rate of obesity has tripled in adolescents in the United States over the last 20 years. 16-25% of children 6 to 19 years of age in the United States are overweight, and 7-19% are obese. Rates are even higher in economically disadvantaged ethnic minority groups. Furthermore, between 70-80% of obese adolescents will become obese adults. Many families have expressed concerns about their children’s weight and physical health and have asked about ways to address these issues. Lucky for them, North Shore Pediatric Therapy is a multidisciplinary team in which therapists from various fields collaborate to provide holistic services for children. To delve deeper into the topic of how to ensure and maintain a healthy lifestyle, I consulted Jesse Coffelt, PT, DPT, of our pediatric physical therapists.

How do you talk to your children about your concerns about their weight in a straightforward, yet sensitive manner?

“Be sensitive, but be an adult.” Jesse suggests a balance between talking to children about their weight and physical fitness in a gentle way, while acting as the head of the household through concrete decision making. One way Jesse suggests talking to children is to check in with them about their perspectives. For example, if your children used to play sports at school but no longer seem to enjoy them, you can say, “I notice you don’t run around as much with your friends as you used to. Why is that?” Jesse explains that most children will answer that they cannot keep up. This, then, is a great entry point to talk to your children about their fitness goals (ex. “Would you like to be able to play on the soccer team this spring?”) and how to get there (ex. “To play on the soccer team, we will have to make some changes so that you feel more confident and prepared. I know you can do it!”).

As a therapist specializing in mental health, I would also suggest anticipating your children’s reactions. All children are different and receive constructive feedback in various ways. If you know that your children will have a challenging time with specific language (ex. “I notice that you’ve gained a few pounds”), think of ways to help your children respond positively so that they will actively participate in a new fitness regime!

How do you know there is an obesity/weight issue?

“The best method to determine whether your children’s height, weight, and body fat are in a healthy range is to calculate their Body Mass Index (BMI). Check out these 2 helpful websites (http://www.bcm.edu/cnrc/bodycomp/bmiz2.html) ( http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/growth/bmi_charts.html?tracking=P_RelatedArticle)  BMI calculators and additional information. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defined overweight as between the 85th to 95th percentile of BMI for age and obese as at or above the 95th percentile of BMI for age.”

 How do you implement a family fitness regime?

  • “Avoid extremes.” Jesse suggests that one simple, yet effective way to implement a new health regime is to reassess the family diet. Cutting out sugary juices and soda in place for water, for example, is a simple way to decrease the number of unhealthy calories and increase the intake of water (health fact: did you know that half of your body weight is the number in ounces of water you should drink per day?). Jesse also warns against extremes (ex. No more desserts forever) and instead recommends healthy alternatives. Click here for a fun, child-friendly, holiday snacking guide!
  • “Have fun with it!” Creating a fitness regime can be fun! Involve the entire family and take family classes at the local gym (ie. Family Zumba is a great option for an energetic dance class open to all ages and levels), spruce up daily walks (ie. Make it a scavenger hunt), engage in friendly competitions (ie. Click here for indoor gross motor activities), and once in awhile, treat your children to creative outings involving physical activity! The president’s challenge is an excellent program and resource with tips and strategies for maintaining a physically active and healthy lifestyle for children and adults!
  • “Don’t get discouraged.” Jesse explains that it takes at least six weeks to increase muscle mass and that you may not recognize changes in body composition. Set goals and keep a log of everyone’s weight so you can really track your success!

Happy 2012! Please share with us your family’s health and fitness goals for the new year!

How To Improve Handwriting Skills, Part 2 | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In part 2 of How To Improve Handwriting Skills, Occupational Therapist works on specific  handwriting techniques with a student.  (Click here For Part 1)

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • What’s the best sitting position for good handwriting
  • What is a slant-board and how it can help
  • What is a helper hand

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman. Today I am standing with occupational therapist
Deborah Michael. Deborah’s going to show us how to work with a
child on handwriting.

Deborah: You have to stay between the two red lines, right? All right,
are you ready? How’s your engine feeling now? A little slower,
right? Okay. Which pencil are you going to use?

Child: This one.

Deborah: Okay. Here goes the timer. Are you ready?

Child: What should I write?

Deborah: Well, let’s see your shirt. How about ‘Go Blackhawks’? Ready?
Okay, now you want to make sure your feet are on the floor, your
elbows are at the right height, and the chair is very important,
the chair you’re on. We already talked about that. The ball, the
chair, the blanket, go.

Make it a capital. Hit those two red lines. Let’s move this up a
little bit. Go ahead.

This is a slant board, which is easier to write on and also
easier when you’re copying from a blackboard. Here, let me get
that. I just wanted to show everybody. The slant board, when
you’re copying from the wall, it’s just easier than going all
the way down to the floor.

Child: Is ‘hawks’ capitalized?

Deborah: You have it right here. You can capitalize the whole thing.
There you go. Well, now you’re going really slowly. Let’s make
it a little bit faster because your time’s almost up. We
definitely slowed you down. Nice. Now let’s just copy this. You
can see how it’s a little bit easier with this slant board to
copy this. Just write ‘2010’ right there.

Beautiful. Just one more thing. Wait, this is your helper hand.
You need your helper hand on the paper. Go ahead. Good work. All
done. High-five. OK. Go take a break. Go run around.

Robyn: Thank you Deborah, and thank you to our viewers. And remember,
keep on blossoming!

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of
mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To
subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit
our website at LearnMore.me. That’s LearnMore.me.

Motivating Your Child to Practice Their Speech-Language Skills at Home

If your child has recently started speech-language therapy, their therapist is likely assigning activities to practice throughout the week. With 1-2 hours of weekly therapy, why is there a need to also practice at home? This is a common question for many parents. It might feel overwhelming to add another item on ABC Lettersyour weekly to-do list with the many demands of life.

When it comes to speech and language therapy, practicing skills throughout the week can mean all the difference in your child’s progress. Your therapist is likely working toward your child’s achievement of very specific and measurable goals, whether trying to replace old habits with new habits, or teaching entirely new skills. Acquiring speech and language skills requires consistent practice throughout the week. I often compare speech and language home-practice to working out at the gym: 1 hour a week is unlikely to make a difference. However, 4-5 days per week will lead to faster progress and noticeable results. So how can you help your child practice at home? Enjoy these 5 tips to encourage your child toward achieving their speech and language goals throughout the week.

5 ways to encourage your child to practice at home:

1. Make a plan with your child’s therapist. If home-practice is not going well, don’t hesitate to ask your child’s therapist for more guidance. Your therapist will help you determine how often you should practice with your child, as well as specific activities and ways to keep them motivated.

2. Make a chart. Include days, times, and specific activities to practice throughout each week. If your child is older, let them monitor their chart by taping it on the refrigerator and adding stickers after assignments are completed. You might even create a reward system for accomplishing a weeks’ worth of practice.

3. Set a schedule. If you’re having difficulty finding the time to practice, setting a schedule will help you prioritize homework. You might set aside 15 minutes after school each day, or 10 minutes on your way to soccer practice in the afternoons.

4. Incorporate goals into your child’s daily routine. Use your therapist as a resource to help you determine which goals can appropriately be incorporated into daily routines. For example, you might practice pronouns (e.g. “he” and “she”) while playing Barbies with your child, or categories (e.g. cold things, hot things, dairy products, etc) during trips to the grocery store.

5. Take advantage of one-on-one time with your child. I typically prefer parents to practice speech and language skills with their child. The feedback and guidance is very helpful while kids are learning new skills. Enjoy this time alone with your child, by setting a special “mommy and me time” or “daddy and me time” to practice together. Your therapist will have ideas for specific games, toys or books that will be fun and engaging for your child to practice their speech and language goals in a way that doesn’t feel like “homework”.

If You Would Like To Receive Our Blogs In Your Email: Please Sign-Up Here!

Kids playing Football

5 Heavy Work Activities For Your Child

Holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas can be overwhelming for adults and children alike, especially children with sensory processing  disorders (SPD). Holidays entail being around a lot of family and friends, eating lots of different foods, and oftentimes getting off of a “typical” daily routine. Here are some great heavy work activities to help your child feel more regulated:

5 Activities For Children To Regulate Themselves:

1. Raking leaves: Have your child help you rake leaves in the yard or at a park nearby; once they create a sufficient pile of leaves, have your child take a big jump into the leaves to give them lots of proprioceptive input. Change up this activity a little bit by having your child log roll through the pile of leaves to provide them withKids playing Football vestibular input and helps to work on their motor planning skills.

2. Pulling wagon/stroller: After a long day full of eating and socializing, take your child outside for some fresh air by going for a walk around the neighborhood. Have your child push/pull a younger sibling in a wagon or a stroller to provide them with heavy work, and help improve trunk control and upper body strength. If there is not a younger sibling to push/pull, feel free to place household items into a wagon instead to increase the load (e.g. lots of blankets, dumbbells, balls etc).

3. Stirring recipes: Involve your child in preparing your  feast by allowing them to stir the batter and/or roll out the dough for your favorite recipes (e.g. pie crust, potatoes, stuffing, cookies etc.) Stirring resistive batter provides your child with heavy work, and also helps to work on hand and upper body strength, motor planning, and following directions.

4. Building a scarecrow: Bring out your family’s creative side by building a scarecrow together. Have your child create a cardboard scarecrow for an inside project, decorating it with glitter and puffballs. Cardboard provides a resistive material for your child to cut through, making it more of a challenge, and helping to work on hand and upper body strength. A life-size scarecrow can also be made by using old clothes stuffed with straw or crumpled newspaper for an outside project. Stuffing old clothing works on motor planning, heavy work, and fasteners depending on the clothing used (e.g. buttons, ties, and zippers).

5. Football: Fall is the perfect time of year to get outside and work on ball skills and hand-eye coordination by tossing a football around. Teaching your child the rules of football and the goals of the game help to work on following directions and being okay with winning/losing. Add resistance by having your child wear wrist or ankle weights or carry a filled backpack (e.g. folded blanket, books, stuffed animals etc). Add an extra challenge by incorporating various ways to get across the football field, such as: single-leg hops, frog jumps, skipping, and galloping; this will help your child work on motor planning, body awareness, and trunk control.

 

What Happens If Torticollis Goes Untreated | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In todays Pediatric Therapy Tv Webisode, a Pediatric Physical Therapist at North Shore Pediatric Therapy explains what happens if the condition of Torticollis goes untreated.

Click here to read more about Torticollis

Gross Motor Exercises for Kids in a Hotel

Staying in a hotel does not leave a lot of room to play which may leave a child bursting with energy! Here are some tips to provide an outlet for kids to have fun during hotel downtime while also improving their gross motor strength, coordination and to help with self-regulation.

11 Hotel Activities Concentrating on Gross Motor, Self Regilation and Coordination:

1. Assist parents in carrying luggage to and from room. This provides heavy work to help with self regulation.

2. Animal walks or races with siblings in hallways. These activities have many benefits, including self-regulation, core strength, endurance, motor planning and bilateral coordination.boy sitting on luggage

3. Crab walks- With body facing upwards, use hands and feet to hold up body weight, while walking on all fours with tummy facing the ceiling and keeping torso held up. This can be done forwards, backwards or even sideways!

4. Bear walks- With body facing downwards and hips bent, walk slowly on all fours with both arms and legs straight.

5. Frog jumps- Begin crouched down in a bent knee position, with knees pointed away from each other. Place both hands on the floor between knees and propel self up with the strength of the legs. Hop forward with both feet together; come down with hands and feet touching the ground at the same time.

6. Be creative! Have your child come up with their own animal walks.

7. Wheelbarrow walks in the hall way. Have your child lie on their stomach while grabbing their feet and raise their feet into the air. The “wheelbarrow” moves by walking on his/her arms while holding their stomach tight. This activity provides heavy work for self regulation, as well as motor planning, bilateral coordination, core strength and upper body strength.

8. Yoga poses- Choose a pose such as tree, plank or boat and see how long your child can hold it for (example: tree, plank, or boat. While holding a sustained contraction as in yoga poses, your child will be increasing their postural control, balance and as well as providing a self-regulation strategy.

9. Jumping Jacks or wall push ups. These easy exercises can be done anywhere to address not only self-regulation, but also bilateral coordination and motor planning.

10. Play “Simon Says”. Show your child a pose and see if they can recreate. This is a great way to increase your child’s motor planning and bilateral coordination. Make sure to incorporate both sides of the body with your poses!

11. Have your child lay on the floor to make numbers or letters with his/her body to address motor planning and bilateral coordination.

If You Would Like To Receive Our Blogs In Your Email: Please Sign-Up Here!

5 Ways to Get Moving with Your Kids

Why not get moving with your kid instead of sitting around watching tv?

Why not get moving with your kid instead of going to a movie?

Why not get moving with your kid instead of baking a cake?

Why not get moving with your kid instead of playing on social media sites and tweeting?

Listen, watching t.v. can be fun, movies can be enriching, baking can be bonding, and tweeting can be exhilarating, but, it is so important to move and it puts everyone in a good mood. Here are five ideas to get you boogying with the boys or get flipping with the females!

 5 Ways To Get Up and Moving With Your Child:

1) Make an obstacle course. Winter? Make it inside. Use pillows, exercise equipment in the house, tables can be tunnels, brooms for jumping over, step stools to do step ups, etc. Think out of the box! Summer? Go outside and have fun with big rocks, bikes, jump ropes, etc. as part of the most fun obstacle course you have ever seen!family swimming

2) Turn up the music and dance! Winter? Dance Dance Revolution OR just boogie to the beat at home! Summer? Bring the music outside to the backyard and have fun!

3) Choose to swim in a pool durin downtime. Winter? Go to the YMCA, Lifetime Fitness, or if someone has an indoor pool in their building, ask to borrow it. Take a daytime room in a nearby hotel! Summer? try different pools and even hire a high school or college swim coach to get everyone doing laps! Have your own pool? Turn on some music and a timer and swim for exercise and fun!

4) Bike! Winter? Did you know you can buy a bike stand for your bike and bike as if you were outside all winter or on a rainy day? Summer? Get outside! Get lost a little and find your way back! Try different destinations each time!

5) Get back to your youth. Play a game of tag, freeze dance, red rover, simon says, mommy please, and other wonderful games that require you to move your body!

Your endorphins will be running wild! It will make your family so much happier!

If You Would Like To Receive Our Blogs In Your Email: Please Sign-Up Here!

Encouraging Crawling in Babies

There is nothing as heart warming as watching your child crawl across the room to try to pull your grandparents wedding china onto the floor.

baby crawling

Crawling is an important form of movement for infants.  It helps to build a stronger core and begins to introduce weight through the bones of the upper leg to increase bone density.  Crawling is singular in its ability to promote strength and stability of the shoulder and the surrounding muscles (which become important postural muscles once the child is standing) using the child’s own weight.  From a visual standpoint, they begin to hone their ability to maintain a smooth visual field while the head is in motion as well as work on their objects per minutes. Reciprocal crawling also develops the ability to coordinate their right and left sides (bilateral integration).

It is typical for babies to progress from scooting backwards on their belly, “swimming ” (where arms and legs are both moving up off the floor), belly crawling (“army/military crawling”), and then reciprocally crawling on hands and knees.  This sequence cannot begin if they are never on their tummies to play, so the foundation is tons and tons and tons of tummy time.

Attempting to change the movement habits that you little one has, or challenging them to build new habits is not easy.  Yeah, very not easy.  I would encourage you to understand their frustration, empathize with them, but stay the course.  Remind yourself of your own tears every time you try to give up coffee.  Remember how tough it was to begin something you wanted to challenge yourself with, but how rewarding it was when you accomplished your goal.  So there may be some tears (some from the baby), but there should also be plenty of cheers and hugs and kisses.

Try these activities at home to encourage crawling:

1. Strong foundations – Tummy time, tummy time, tummy time. I know I said this above, but it is worth  repeating.
2. Get down and get busy – Lay, roll, and crawl around with your child.  You can make a lot of eye contact, and if you are on the floor your face can still be seen if they need to put their head down to rest, so they may enjoy being on their tummy longer.
3. Get low – If laying next to them is not enough, lay on your back, and place your child on your chest.  This is great for bonding and
4. Born free– Take them out of the exerscaucer or bouncy seat – When children do not have to move to get a toy or look at something new they won’t, which leads me to……
5. Move a toy just out of their reach – Yes, I said that you needed to be mean, and this may lead to screaming. They may just surprise you and themselves by moving towards it.
6. Try a different toy- perhaps with lights and/or music.
7. Try using your phone to motivate them -I have seen this work, just don’t let them put it in their mouth.  Ew!
8. Try changing what they are wearing- Layers of clothing can impede sensory input and get in the way of movement.
9. You are the local expert – If these things do not work, you know what motivates your child, mix it up, and then let me know, I’m running out of ideas.
10. Tummy time -which means getting them out of the bouncy chair/bumbo seat.  Learn more about the importance of Tummy Time from this 2 minute video

How to Use a BOSU for Exercise with Children

BOSU BallA Bosu, also known as a “blue moon” during Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, is a great piece of exercise equipment for adults and children alike. A Bosu helps to work on balance, trunk control, strength, endurance, motor planning and body awareness. A Bosu is flat on the bottom and round on the top; and it can be used either with the flat side down on the floor or with the round side on the floor. Even a more simple body position, such as lying in prone (on stomach) over the Bosu, with your hands flat on the floor, and arms and shoulders supporting your body in an extended position, really helps to work on your upper back and neck strength, endurance, and weight bearing through your upper body. Listed below are several activities to try out at home or at the gym; let the workout begin!

Standing Exercises with a Bosu:

The activities below can be used in a standing position on top of the Bosu, either with both feet on the Bosu, or balancing on one leg to really challenge your balance

  • Balloon volleyball: see how long you can keep the balloon in the air before it hits the ground and before you lose your balance
  • Catch: use a variety of size/weighted balls to throw and catch with a partner; by mixing it up, you will more greatly challenge your center of gravity
  • Crossing midline: have game pieces to the right side and left side of the Bosu, have child use opposite arm/hand to pick-up game pieces reaching across their body
  • Inverted bowling: stand with head between legs, using one hand lightly to support self if needed, and using the other hand to toss/roll the ball towards the pins (you could also create your own bowling pins using plastic cups, toilet paper tubes, empty plastic bottles, etc.)

Yoga Poses with a Bosu:

The activities below incorporate traditional yoga poses on top of the Bosu. To start off, try out the yoga pose on the floor next to the Bosu first, and then build-up to maintaining the yoga poses on top of the Bosu once you are ready to challenge yourself. See pictures below for examples of these positions.

  • Boat: Seated on Bosu, lean backwards slightly and lift legs into 90 degree angle, with arms lifted straight in front
  • Plank: Place both hands or both elbows onto the top of the Bosu, tuck toes under and lift back and bottom towards theceiling,keeping your entire body in a straight line like a table
  • 4 point (contralateral limb extension): Place your right knee onto the center of the bosu, and place your left handonto the Bosu for support; then extend your right arm and left leg, keeping your head and neck neutral with your spine **Then make sure to switch sides, placing your left knee onto the center of the Bosu, and using your right hand for support

  • Airplane: Step onto the center of the Bosu with one foot, resting the opposite foot lightly on the floor until you are ready to lift it off the ground behind you; lean slightly forward, bringing arms out to the side like airplane wings, and then slowly lift the leg (resting on the floor) up behind you

Note: Make sure to have adult supervision when trying these activities, as it is easy to lose your balance. Also, it is always a good idea to have mats or pillows nearby, in case you fall. Lastly, ask your occupational therapist or physical therapist if you have any further questions on how to correctly position your body for the exercises above.