Starfish Therapies
Starfish Therapies Newsletter
Happy Father's Day! June 2009
Volume 7
In This Issue
Starfish Updates
Out and About
Baby Walkers and Jumpers
Starfish Updates
Check out our Blog for information on gross motor development.  For requests on topics please email [email protected].

Visit our Facebook profile for more frequent information plus local events.  To receive updates when new information is posted support us by becoming a fan!

Find out how you can get 50% off of the inaugural Baby Signs class.  Contact Corinne at 415-346-3853 or [email protected].

Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program

BORP has been improving the health, independence and social integration of people with physical disabilities through sports, fitness and recreation programs for decades.   They offer year round sports and recreation programs that serve a wide variety of ages, interests and abilities.  Some of the programs include:  Youth Programs, Adventures & Outings, Wheelchair Basketball, Adaptive Cycling, Goalball, and Power Soccer.  For more information please visit their website.
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Out and About
Five Alarm Fun

Five Alarm Fun

San Francisco Fire Engine Tours and Adventures is a great option for out of town guests or something new to do with your kids.  They offer a 75 minute tour on a big, red, shiny, Mack Fire Engine that takes you from the Cannery through the Presidio, over the Golden Gate Bridge, through Sausalito, back through Union Street and ending back at the Cannery.  Check out their website for more details.

June brings the official start of summer and the need for outdoor activity ideas.  Read below to find out how you can kick off summer with a tour of San Francisco on a fire engine! Enjoy!
TheraTogs: Therapy you Wear
Many of you may have seen this funny blue suit floating around our clinic or being put on your child at some point during your therapy experience.  We hope this article will give you a better understanding of how TheraTogs can help children with various impairments achieve optimal movement patterns as well as support the growth and development of the musculoskeletal system.
TheraTogs, Inc. describes this orthotic garment as a "live-in exo-muscular system for neuromotor, postural, and sensory training. The system provides a versatile, flexible approach to addressing and managing mobility, sensory input, and stability issues." The garment is made from a patented inner foam layer that gently grips the skin and a velcro-sensitive outer layer that allows for the attachment of elastic straps that are thought to act as external muscles.  Therefore, Thera Togs allow for custom application to address the specific needs of each individual who wears them.  Thera Togs are designed for daily use over several hours, which allows for prolonged, low load forces to the musculoskeletal system to create changes in muscle recruitment strategies as well as bone and joint alignment if the child is still at an appropriate age for bone modeling.  TheraTogs facilitate optimum posture and function by ensuring that the thousands of movement repetitions each person executes each day are occuring in an ideal alignment.

ThereaTogs have shown to be effective for the following impairments...
  • Ataxia
  • Hypotonia
  • Athetosis
  • Weakness
  • Intoed gait
  • Out-toed gait
  • Joint deviations
  • Joint laxity
  • Muscle recruitment problems
  • Sensory integration issues
  • Postural mal-alignment
  • Muscle imbalance
And have been used as a part of physical therapy intervention for several diagnoses, such as...
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
    Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism
  • Brachial Plexus Injury (BPI)
  • Cerebral Palsy (CP)
  • Down's Syndrome
  • Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
  • Spina Bifida
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

TheraTogs were designed by a world renowned Physical Therapist who wanted a way to give therapists extra hands to facilitate normal movemement as well as a way to send their hands home with their clients to allow for therapy all day long versus the one hour a week that most children receive.  To find out more about TheraTogs or to see if they might be right for your child you can ask your therapist or visit their website.

To read the most recently published research article about the use of TheraTogs for children with Cerebral Palsy, click here
Baby Walkers and Jumpers: To use or not to use???
                             baby walkerAre walkers and jumpers beneficial for your infant? Here are some general thoughts of the therapists at Starfish Therapies. 
When talking about walkers, we are speaking of the ones with the seats in which your child is enclosed (pictured left).  Many believe that baby walkers help their children learn to walk and possibly even walk at an earlier age.  However, this may not be the case for several reasons.  First, if your infant spends most of their first year in a walker type device, they are most likely missing out on valuable floor time that encourages other gross motor milestones such as rolling, crawling, pulling to stand, and cruising all of which are all important precursors to walking (especially crawling as you may have read in the Starfish Therapies Blog).
Second, in most cases the baby is not bearing full weight through their legs or is not bearing the weight in an optimal alignment.  One example being, they may be touching the ground with just their tiptoes, which could lead to shortening of the Achilles tendon (the thick, hard tendon located at the back of your ankle) and calf muscles causing toe walking later down the line.  Another example being, some baby walker seats cause the hips to remain in too much external rotation (turned outwards) which causes abnormal forces at the hip joint and can prevent the development of normal alignment throughout the entire leg.  A baby is born with a natural bow to the leg in which the knees are pointed outwards and the feet naturally fall towards the midline of their bodies.  Weight bearing in correct alignment helps to straighen out this bowing within the first year.  Some walker seats may interfere with this process by changing the position of the hips.
Third, walkers do little to enhance balance skills as the child does not truly need to support themselves and can often lean onto the support offered on all sides. 
baby walker 2Now, a different type of walker you may be thinking of is one that your child stands in front of and pushes with their arms while independently taking steps (pictured to the left).  This type of walker does not interfere with optimal weight bearing and can help improve balance and coordination as the child has to control the momentum of the walker and take steps at the same time.  One thing it may interfere with is the development of a reciprocal arm swing and trunk rotation.  However, if your child is delayed in walking it may be just the thing to build their confidence before they are able to take steps on their own. It may help them realize that they can get from point A to point B on their feet and when they eventually start letting go the arm swing and trunk rotation should come along in time. 
baby jumperOne last thing to mention is jumpers where they baby can jump up and down with the aide of springy cables (pictured left).  These are great fun.  However, again the baby is most likely pushing off their toes and therefore, over using their calf muscles causing shortening which could again lead to toe walking and severe tightness down the line.  The seats in these devices also do not tend to promote optimal alignment for weight bearing. 
So, are we saying to never put your child in these devices?
No.  We are simply saying that excessive use may (but not always) interere with your child's development. We know they are fun and provide great entertainment when you need a few mintues to get something done but minimal usage is the way to go. Just keep in mind if your child is spending more time in a walker or jumper than on the floor they are most likely missing out on crucial developmental opportunities.
Thanks for checking in again.  Hope you enjoyed this issue of Starfish Notes.  See you in July! 

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