Southpaw Enterprises - Pawprint
March 2013
Therapist's Corner
Returning to the Roots of OT
Deanna Macioce, MS, OTR/L
Deanna Maciole

The history of treatment in the profession of occupational therapy found itself rooted in the use of crafts.   Therapists used a variety of crafts to help improve the fine motor, visual motor, coordination, and mental capabilities, as well as others of individuals.  They were a way to assist in improving an individual's ability to perform their "daily occupations".  However, due to the demands of insurance companies and the increased focus of "functional activities" you no longer see crafts being using in traditional therapy settings such as hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.  Crafts were an ideal way to perform task analysis and devise a treatment activity that would address an individual's need based on a variety of problem areas rather than just one specific activity.  

In the area of pediatrics, occupational therapists focus on the "functional" activities of children.  This includes, play, self-care, behavioral, and educational concerns.  Therefore, it can be easier to justify the use of crafts.

Just as in the 'old' days, crafts can cover a wide range of skills and can be adapted to address the various needs of children, while still focusing on their functional activities. The same craft can typically be graded, even if only in positioning and set up, to address most children on a therapist's caseload.  From sensory needs, fine motor and visual motor skills to bilateral coordination, sequencing, and attention skills, crafts can do it all.

Tactile sensory skills can be addressed with finger painting, doing hand and foot print crafts, and using glue, as well as using stickers, foam pieces or sequence.  

Both fine motor and dexterity skills can be address by gluing small objects such as marshmallows, dried pasta or pieces to complete a paper lion.  Increase the challenge by having the child use tongs to obtain the objects if grip and strength are part of the treatment plan.  Ripping small squares off a strip of paper to glue onto a template such as a heart, balloon or pumpkin helps to improve the use of the pincer grasp while encouraging bilateral hand skills needed for higher functioning activities.   In addition, the use of crayons, markers, and paint brushes for drawing and coloring help improve hand-eye coordination and visual motor skills, as wells grasp and hand endurance.

Scissor skills can be addressed initially to make snips for grass, a lion's mane, or the petals on a flower.  Then moving to lines, shapes, and templates.  In addition, changing the type of paper used, such as construction paper versus card stock.

Attention, sequencing, and modeling skills can be addressed through the presentation of the craft and how the directions are delivered.  For some, you may provide just the model and the pieces, and have them form it, while others you may have directions just written out.  Doing the necessary sensory preparation for regulation and organization makes these activities even more fully encompassing of a treatment plan.

So, as we move into to April celebrating Occupational Therapy Month, it is a great time to go back to our roots encouraging the use of crafts in our treatments.  Not to mention it is fun, creative and they make great keepsakes. 

 Dicuss this article on our blog
AOTA Annual Conference
AOTA 2013 Conference

Are you planning on attending the AOTA's Annual Conference this year?  Be sure to stop by Booth 201 and check out the Southpaw Multi-Sensory Experience, see several new products and old favorites, as well as pick up some free goodies!  Look for more information coming soon about what we have in store for this year's conference.
Did You Know?
We understand that budgets are cut, and many times getting that new piece of equipment you want is very difficult.  Maybe you have an old swing that needs repaired to get it in safe working condition again?  Or it might just need a new cover to repair a tear in the vinyl?  Did you know Southpaw can repair your old Southpaw manufactured swings to get them like new?  For more information on this, please contact our Customer Service department at 800-228-1698 or


Quick Links
Southpaw's Bolster Swing

Bolster Swing
  If a therapist has to select just one piece of hanging equipment, the Southpaw Bolster Swing is the best choice. From lying on top of the bolster to hanging underneath, it can be used for a variety of progressive flexion activities. Comes complete with built-in rotational device and five safety snaps.

ICE Bubble Tube

ICE Bubble Tube
These Bubble Tubes come without a platform to maximize the viewing area of the tube. The sturdy wooden base provides maximum protection for the LEDs and electronics powering the unit. Easily paired with a Power Cube or Super Switch to provide a full range of opportunities for interactive activities.   
Read More

Jump and Play Island

Jump and Play Island

Children will love this addition to your therapy setting. This piece of equipment is ideal for group participation and increases spatial awareness while providing a great deal of proprioceptive input. In addition, it increases balance and motor planning as children walk around it or maneuver in and out of the middle.
 Read More