When you have a physical disability, whether it is Cerebral Palsy or Muscular Dystrophy, everyday tasks are challenging. Physical therapy is so important. Being able to work with a professional therapist is beneficial.
There are also many ways to add therapy to your everyday routine.
The four essential therapies are:
Stretching and range of motion exercises are very important in preventing contractures. A contracture is when the joint gets locked into place because of muscle shortening. Some kids have spasticity in their muscles. It is very important to stretch out these muscles to prevent further shortening of the muscles. Range of Motion (or ROM) exercises are simply moving all the joints in your child’s body.
You can schedule a time in your child’s routine where you will do the stretching and ROM exercises. I help my daughter with stretching every morning while dressing her.
Weight bearing exercises are also very important. They build stronger, denser bones. Weight bearing does not have to be just on the feet. If your child can kneel, they can kneel to a shorter table. On the table you would have an activity for your child to do. Tummy time promotes weight bearing through the arms. My daughter looks at picture books during tummy time. Standing is a great activity if your child is able. Standers can be helpful if you have one. Also kids can lean on a sturdy table and do an activity. Standing even for short periods of time help as well.
As for positioning, you need to make sure your child does not get pressure sores. There are many things you can buy to help with this. Gel pads, memory foam and pillows, to name a few. Pressure sores more commonly appear on the bottom, elbows, and ankles.
Make sure you move your child many times throughout the day and sometimes even through the night. Do this by rolling to opposite sides or change from sitting to laying. Sores mean more possibilities for infection. The best way to address them is by prevention.
These are some great ways to keep your child’s joints and muscles healthy and preventing pressure sores will help keep your child comfortable. My daughter already has osteopenia. She needs multiple weight-bearing activities throughout the day. This will hopefully help prevent more density loss from her bones.
As a parent to a child with special health care needs, we often must learn little tricks to get things done. Each month Marty shares some of the tips and tricks she has learned along the way.