Southpaw Enterprises
March 2012
Product Spotlight 
  Outdoor Full Body Swing

Southpaw Outdoor Full Body Swing

Your clients can have as much fun outdoors as they have inside with our Outdoor Full Body Swing. We've brought you lots of swings and other vestibular products over the years, but they've all been for indoor clinics, classrooms and homes. Now, we've decided to branch out and make some swings that can be hung on standard galvanized steel. This large swing will accommodate children to small adults in a seated or prone position.
The swing has a sturdy painted aluminum frame covered in red and blue 1000 denier cordura, which will stand up to the worst weather conditions. The cordura cover has four zippers, so it can be removed for washing. The swing hangs from four coated steel cables so there are no pinched fingers. The cables end in chain link so it can be hung from a standard swing frame.

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Therapy Talk
Deanna Maciole
Getting A 'Grasp' on Outdoor Play 
Deanna Macioce, MS, OTR/L
Much of the realm of occupational therapy practice focuses on the hands and the use of the hands.  Very often, especially in the adult population you will hear that physical therapists work on the lower extremities while occupational therapists address the upper extremities.  In OT there tends to be a lot of focus on the hands, even in the pediatric population.  As with all development, there is a natural progression to the development of hand grasps and skills.  You can find a variety of resources available that highlight the progression of the various grasps, including illustrations.   However, this month we will not focus on the textbook information on how grasps develop, rather we are going to take a look at how simple, typical outdoor play helps strengthen a child's hands and fine motor dexterity. Very often we identify much of the playing children do outdoors as gross motor, and overlook the way that it impacts their fine motor skills. So, as we approach Spring let's see how we can incorporate fine motor goals into our everyday outdoor activities.  

There are very few children who do not partake in any type of play that involves balls.  Commonly seen as activities that help strengthen coordination skills, ball playing can also been beneficial to fine motor strengthening, especially in terms of thumb opposition and the intrinsic muscles of the fingers.  For example, working with a football and encouraging a proper throw and release, addresses the stability and strength of the fingers, including the thumb.  This is important when trying to increase the opening of the thumb web space.  When performed without the use of the body or chest for stability, any type of ball catching activity from a tennis ball to a playground ball, encourages not only the strength and stability of the forearms, but also the fingers.  In addition, sports such as golf, tennis, Frisbee and baseball help encourage specific grasps and use of the hands. The use of a Velcro ball catch is also a key way to encourage the strength of the hands due to the resistance provided when pulling the ball from the Velcro catcher. So, sign your child up for his or her favorite outdoor sport or gather the neighborhood kids together for a friendly game of baseball, either way, you will be improving your child's fine motor skills and having fun.

Water play with spray bottles, squirt guns, and animal squirters all benefit and encourage fine motor dexterity and finger strengthening, especially by using the thumb, index and middle fingers.  Having increased strength with these fingers will improve overall handwriting and scissor skills.  So, fill up the water table and let the water wars begin. In addition, using the garden hose nozzle to water flowers, the lawn or wash the cars are great activities that will help you reach these goals.

The nice weather provides the opportunity to pull many of those "messy" tasks outdoors.   Bringing out the finger paints, shaving cream and playdough are all activities that help improve fine motor skills.  When finger painting or playing in shaving cream, encourage children to use isolated fingers to form shapes, letters or designs.  Playdough, itself provides the opportunity for strengthening with full hand squeezing, thumb opposition strengthening with pinching, and overall improving of fine motor dexterity to build and design various items.

Digging in sand and dirt, allow children to work on grasping various tools with the use of the wrist. Filling up buckets of various sizes and having children transport them help to encourage the improvement of a hook grasp and overall hand strength.

Another activity to help work on fine motor skills is sidewalk chalk, which is often a favorite activity for children of all ages.  Using the chalk by itself or with a "fancy" holder with encourage the use of a thumb and fingertip grasp.

When it comes to playing outdoors, we often focus on our sensory, core stability and coordination goals, however by taking the time to fully perform task analyses of these activities will prove to you how beneficial these activities are to the overall development of the hands and fine motor skills.  So, now is the time to move your focus away from the table top to the outside when working on fine motor skills.

Upcoming Trade Shows

CEC 2012

Come see our booth #1131 at the Council for Exceptional Children Conference in Denver April 12-14.  Al of our new, wireless Sens-Aura products will be on display at the booth.  You can win a Mini Marble Panel!

2012 AOTA Annual Conference
We will also be in booth #515 at the annual AOTA Conference in Indianapolis on April 26-28.  Be sure to stop by!.


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