Play IS Therapy

We often think of therapy as being hard work, boring exercises, something that needs repeating many times to work. But therapy is more than that and need not be boring!

Therapy helps us to do things that we can’t do or can’t do well. Sometimes we do the whole task eg get dressed. Sometimes we do just part of it eg putting your arm into a sleeve repeatedly. Sometimes we do what looks like a silly exercise, but it actually helps us dress.  For example, throwing a ball usually means moving your shoulders,  especially if you throw it from over your head.  Often putting on clothes is difficult because of the need to put arms in sleeves means lots of shoulder movement. So anything that moves the shoulders well may help (if that is a problem for your child).

Play can build many things that both children and adults need.
For example Balance – we need to be able to use the muscles in our back, stomach,  chest, hips etc to sit up or stand and to balance.
Balance is used for so so much. Dressing, sit on the floor at school, carrying a book, lifting a glass to drink from it and much much more.

So how can we give therapy to help someone’s balance?

We could get them to sit or stand still for 15 mins, staring into space doing nothing more.
Or we could sit them in front of the television or phone or tablet with a video playing.  They have to work on keeping their head up to see the telly/phone! There is nothing better than Chota Bheem or Dora the Explorer to keep a young child watching the TV. By watching they are using their balance muscles. Just remember to sit them, and put a phone or tablet, in a way they need to look up a little!

The next stage is to introduce movement. It may be putting the hand up and down or any other movement –  any movement will help those balance muscles. But what movement would a child (or adult) enjoy doing? Lifting their arm up and down 8 times. Resting a few minutes then repeat twice more? This will be therapy and will help balance. But as a parent it will yprobably be hard work getting them to do all those exercises. And it won’t be fun for you or your child!

So how can we change that? We can include the exercise into play or a game. Look for any game that makes the child move their arm in any way.
Play with wood or plastic blocks or lego or duplo or empty recycled cardboard boxes.
Drawing anything on paper, a chalk blackboard or with a finger or stick in the sand.
Read a book together and get your child to hold the book for you.
Play a board game like ludo and get your child to move the pieces.
Throw a ball around, use a larger ball for children just starting this activity. You will need to throw it into their cupped hands to begin with. When they throw the ball back to you they will be using and giving therapy to all sorts of muscles.

There are many many other things you can do with your child to help them get better at balancing. Choose something they enjoy doing that moves their hands and so uses their balance muscles. Start with something they can do, don’t make it impossible for them. Everyone is different so you will need to find what works for them.

Of course each play activity develops many other skills. Social skills by playing with other people. Hand skills eg by drawing. Hand eye coordination when balancing blocks or boxes etc. 

So please, see that play and games are fantastic therapy. Later we can look at different play and how it can help your child.

I will put in some pictures later……