Southpaw Enterprises - Pawprint
May 2013
Therapist's Corner
Bike Riding:  Stacking the Blocks to Success
Deanna Macioce, MS, OTR/L
Deanna Maciole

Whether you are driving through your neighborhood, the local park, or down a busy avenue, you will almost always catch someone riding a bike.  Bike riding is a universal activity that is enjoyed by people both big and small.  We tend to think that it is a rite of passage during childhood, moving from training wheels to the ultimate two-wheeler, and often hear the phrase, "it is as easy as riding a bike".  However, that is not the case at all.  Bike riding is one of the most complex activities to master, and for our children with sensory processing difficulties and special needs, it appears to be as challenging as climbing Mount Everest.  May is National Bike Month, and with summer sneaking around the corner, it is the perfect time to focus on this.  

If we take a look at the 'building blocks' to bike riding we see that it involves much more than just progression, growth and development.  Bike riding entails balance, bilateral coordination, trunk and shoulder stability and visual skills, as well as the cognitive abilities to discern safety and direction following. Therefore, we need to be cautious and aware of where the break down of skills are for our children before we just plop them on the seat and tell them to "go".  And we need to ensure their comfort level so that we keep them feeling safe and not losing their confidence.  

Improving a child's core stability, including trunk and shoulder control will help enhance his or her overall balance, which is required for successful bike riding.  This is where many of those therapy ball activities come into play, both in upright sitting and the prone position.  In addition, utilizing the bolster or disk swing helps with improving trunk control, while offering a bit of movement.  Increasing the challenge to the task by including a hand-eye coordination activity is always beneficial for incorporating the necessary visual skills for success.  T-stool and scooter board activities, as well as wheelbarrow and animal walks are just a few other ways to help improve this 'building block'.

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Products in Motion
Southpaw's Cocoon Swing
Dr. Catherine Hoyt OTD, OTR/L
Dr. Catherine Hoyt In pediatric occupational therapy, we focus on participation in skills and activities appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child. We also have to consider what is important to our client; which in pediatrics is the child as well as the family.  Addressing the child's needs and the family's goals can sometimes be a challenge. The appropriate equipment can help us to foster adaptive responses to engage the child in play, the main occupation of children.

For one 4 year old child, John, his family really wanted him to be able to play with children his age doing typical pre-kindergarten activities such as finger painting, swinging, listening to music, attending large parties and eating treats. John is a happy, energetic and bright little boy, but some of these experiences caused him a lot of anxiety and he would say things like "I'm afraid I won't like it" or "I'm scared".   John was scared of going into any space that was at all dark or restrained his movement in any way.

We used the Cocoon Swing because it provided an experience where he was able to challenge himself while still feeling safe. The swing let him sit comfortably and have a bit of reduced lighting while still being able to see out.  The Cocoon Swing also let him experience a bit of pressure from the fabric of the swing but still have the flexibility to move his body.  The Cocoon Swing was a little scary to him at first, but he was able to manage that anxiety because it provides the just right amount of comfort by being able to see through the fabric and out the top. It also provided the deep pressure around his body, which was calming to him. It helped John develop the capacity to challenge his fears knowing that he is able to overcome them.  John continues to face challenging activities and he is still learning,  but this swing has helped us move forward in therapy.

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Quick Links
Vibro Crash Pit with Lights

Vibro Crash Pit with Lights
Enjoy the incredible feeling of floating in a sea of color, sink down under and watch the kaleidoscope effects and experience the magic. 

 Spiral Floor Disc

Spiral Floor Disc
Just the Right Size! This Floor Disc provides vestibular input for both children and adults. Now you can easily provide the input your clients crave and need with ease no matter how big or small.  
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 Swamp Stool

Swamp Stool

Comfortable, easy-to-clean stool utilizes thermo-sensitive fabrics to enable playful, therapeutic interaction between children and adults. At room temperature the stools appear one color, but a warm touch leaves temporary impressions of the hand/body in a dramatic new color. The prints last for 30-45 seconds before returning to the original color.
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