What an OT does for fun part 2 – therapy Ball

Jack and I have been doing a lot more work on the therapy ball these days, and I thought it might be helpful if I collected some internet resources for people entering the therapy world to read about the purpose for them and different ideas. As always, please know this is not exhaustive or in place or your therapist who is working specifically with your child since we know everyone is so different!

OK then…

The therapy ball is a fabulous tool for the home that allows you to grade the exercise and strengthen your child’s core and upper body strength which is big time important for kids like my little guy. It also allows for a softer surface for his bony surfaces like his elbows—and for his face plants as he strengthens his neck and back muscles  😉

Here are some ideas for a 6 month old baby (since thats how old Jack is). The list of resources and videos at the end of this post will further clarify age and size specific exercises/guidelines.

> Place your child on the ball on the stomach with their arms flat around the ball holding onto their hips or waist tightly, gently rock back and forth

> Place your child on the ball on the stomach with their arms bent at the elbow and directly under their shoulders, holding onto their hips or waist tightly, gently rock back and forth and side to side

> Holding onto their back/waist/hips, have your child practice lifting their head against gravity. If they are unable to push themselves up, tip the ball slightly towards your body to make it easier, if that is too easy tilt the ball slightly away from you to increase the angle against gravity which will help strengthen their core.

> Place the ball in front of a mirror to allow for more fun tummy time/peek-a-boo game

> Place baby on their back on the ball while firmly holding them and allow a good stretch. may even roll slightly back and forth if they allow. This too helps strengthen the core

> Place ball against a wall or couch and use it to help support your baby in standing (Jack does not yet put any weight into his legs). The ball will aid extra support while not putting too much pressure on your baby. This is good since Jack is not yet ready for a walker or jumper (my therapists are not crazy about those devices anyway since they don’t really help your child learn how to walk or use those muscles in a functional way – but as a mom… I love every new place for my child to play and entertain – – moderation peeps!)

And since we often learn better by watching and doing things rather than just reading… here are some visuals:

This video demonstrates how to hold your child and allowing them to move on the ball. It also has a clip of how to help your child stand while using the ball. You’ll have to watch it closely since they don’t explain where to put your hands or how to do it exactly…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_r5n0M44BM

This next video is a fabulous demonstration of how to fit a ball to your child and some cool things to do for an older child.  Also, I didn’t mention before how great a therapy ball is for children with various sensory integration issues. I’ve been hearing that kids with Apert Syndrome can often struggle with ADD or ADHD tendencies. Sometimes finding the right sensory tricks for your daily life can really help with ADD…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dj74SLogCWY

A short clip from an Aussie explaining the vestibular system:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9p5kiFvUDo

And in case you want to see a video with a doll so you can hear the person talking and not a crying baby…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z4jE7VHnsQ

Last video – this shows you just how doable these exercises are for the growing babies…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5DSiTY5EL4

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