Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Toy-FULL Tuesday: Splish SPLASH!!

Sizzlin' Cool Bee Baby Pool from Toys 'R' Us

I know, it's summer time and what better way is there to keep your kids (not to mention the mommies and daddies and everyone else) cool? Water, right?

So, what's your favorite?

The beach?

         The backyard pool?

                  The sprinkler in the yard?

                         The baby pool you can stick your feet in?

                                 The pool at the YMCA?

                                          The hose?

Did you know that water therapy for kids with complex medical needs is beneficial beyond belief?

While aquatic therapy is a practice taught by certified physical and occupational therapies that was once heralded for it's ease of practice since the buoyancy and added hydrostatic pressure of the water aided in relieving patients of the pain experienced on land with weight bearing and/or range of motion exercises. However, aquatic therapy has expanded to include treatment for a BROAD range of treatment for varying levels of abilities in children and adults.

From Angelfish Therapy, which is a pediatric aquatic therapy center offering lessons and camps for children who require OT/PT for sensory or neurological concerns on the east coast of the US (I encourage you to check out their website for a ton of great resources and therapy plans you can implement at home on your own):

"Children with a variety of physical, sensory, developmental, or neurological issues are prime candidates for aquatic therapy.

Among the children we at Angelfish have successfully helped over the years are those with:  Autism Spectrum Disorders; Sensory Processing Disorders; Auditory Processing Difficulties; Pervasive Developmental Disorders; Down Syndrome; Cerebral Palsy; Spastic Diplegia; Multiple Sclerosis; Muscular Dystrophy; Hypotonia; Apraxia; Developmental Dyspraxia; Rett Syndrome; Periventricular Leukomalacia; Chromosomal Abnormalities; Hydrocephalus; Hemiparesis; Hemiplegia; Hodgkins Lymphoma; Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis; Asperger Syndrome; seizure disorders; sensory integration dysfunction; gross motor delays; motor planning issues; lack of core strength; ADHD; learning and language disabilities; and issues associated with premature birth"

So, playing in the pool is actually more than just FUN?? ABSOLUTELY!! And it isn't just in the pool, but the bath tub works wonderfully for achieving the same benefits!

So, what are the benefits and why would I choose this option for my child?

"Here are some reasons to consider aquatic therapy for your child:

  • Working in the water allows children to perform and learn movements that would otherwise be too difficult to perform on land.  Returning to their land-based program then provides them the opportunity to practice movements which with they have become more skilled in the water.
  • The physiological benefits of an 88-92 degree pool include:  decreased pain, increased range of motion, decreased sensitivity of sensory nerve endings, and increased joint range of motion.
  • Vestibular stimulation from buoyancy and resistance improves a child’s ability to integrate sensory information.
  • The viscosity of water gives a child time to react and experiment with the consequences of movement.
  • The hydrostatic pressure created when partially or fully submerged in water improves circulation, increases the work of breathing, and gives the body 360 degrees of deep pressure."
In fact, I believe SO strongly in the benefits of aquatic therapy myself that we even made time for it at our recent Global Hydranencephaly Conference in Dallas: 

From front green and clockwise around to the front pink: Natalia, Joey, Johnny & Savannah

Those rings are one of the very first therapy tools that didn't double as some sort of torture device for Brayden, right after the hard wood corner chair, neck brace, and a few other items that involved straps and were not appeasing. I discovered the Waterway Babies system in 2010, I believe, when we lived in South Carolina. Brayden was about two years old and had limited purposeful movement and a great deal of spasticity, muscle tightness, in all of his extremities. I was in immediate touch with the product creator, Nancy Higgs, who was amazingly wonderful then and continues to be now. I got Brayden set up with the neck ring and the pool and from there it was all history! 

Almost immediately he started purposefully moving his legs, then it was his arms a little more. He never quite grasped the consistent use of his arms during his time here, but there is no doubt that he got the leg movement down to a "t". And nearly every day for the rest of his time here, he took a dip with his neck ring... most often in the bath tub with ginger and other essential oils for added benefit. (you can read more on this topic at our soon-to-be-published website article "Therapeutic Bath" which will be up when construction progresses, thanks for your patience!). 

Waterway Babies had such a great initial impact on me personally, through personal experience with my own little man, so much that I have remained in constant touch with Nancy and recommended the neck ring to every parent of a child with limited abilities... that's no exaggeration, I truly love it, that's how obvious the benefits were to me. Then when GHF came along, Nancy graciously donated a swim ring for us to promote our new Facebook page. And two years later, she moved her schedule around to actually attend our first conference... which is where we gathered up some of our little bees for a swim in the photo above. You can read more about this particular system's benefits in a previous blogpost "Going for a Swim" or at the website for Waterway Babies.

The BEST part about any aquatic therapy is that it is easy and fun for all involved...

Some assistance items include (click on caption to go to original post):

Intex Swim School Deluxe Swim Vest

Pro Pool Pool Access Chair 

Combination Head Float and Stabilizer Bar

and if you're feeling REALLY bold, you can make this:

Make a Water Scooter for child with limited abilities

So, explore your options... but ultimately, you don't need anything but a body of water and your child with you. If you're extra fortunate, as our bee-buddy Chase, and you get to swim with dolphins during your time here... then you will benefit even more!

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