Pawprint - June 2015
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Indiana Occupational Therapy Assocation's Spring Conference

On May 2nd, the Indiana Occupational Therapy Association held their annual Spring Conference at Huntington University in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  The presenter, Dr. Susan Young, utilized Southpaw equipment in her speaking sessions teaching sensory integration principles and techiques with the Indiana OT practitioners.  They were kind enough to send pictures from the conference to us.
Thank you Indiana Occupational Therapy Association and Dr. Susan Young!

Therapist's Corner
Deanna Maciole
Climbing To New Heights in Development
Deanna Macioce, MS, OTR/L

We often hear parents talking about how their children are climbing on everything.  Whether it is climbing on the furniture, the door jams, up a tree or every brick wall that comes in their path, they love to climb.  And a typical adult response that follows is "get down from there!"  

Climbing is important for our children, but often we try to discourage these behaviors due to fear of injury or the idea that their feet should be left on the ground.  And in so doing, we are hurting their physical, sensory, intellectual and emotional development.  In addition, for most of us, there are not a lot of things that can be climbed within our homes, so that means it needs to happen outside of the house, at a playground, in the trees, or at a rock climbing gym.  This sometimes makes it more of an effort on parents.  So, why should we make more time for climbing?

Strength:  Climbing in beneficial in building upper body strength and improving shoulder and core stability.  For children, weight lifting is not a typical activity, but playing is.  So allowing your child to participate in climbing activities will help contribute to these components of development.  Good upper extremity stability and strength help improve fine motor skills used for tasks, such as handwriting, scissor cutting, and fastener manipulation.  A strong core is beneficial for all tasks and even aids in improving attention and focusing for those long school days of sitting.

Hand/Grip Strength: When climbing children have to maintain their grip and grasp, which in turns improves their hand and grip strength.  More and more, we are finding children have less defined hand muscles, especially with intrinsic finger muscles.  This makes it difficult to maintain a proper triad grasp for writing tools, as well as have the proper in-hand manipulation skills for strong dexterity skills.

Gravitational Insecurity: Many children demonstrate fear of heights or having their feet off the ground, which could indicate gravitational insecurity.  This often comes from the decreased amount of natural movement our children experience, especially when younger due to be placed in baby equipment or trying to keep them safe by keeping their feet on the ground.  Climbing allows children the ability to get their feet off the ground and move their bodies is ways that do not happen in natural every day movement.  

Proprioception:  Also known as "heavy work", propioception is addressed as children use their body strength to pull themselves up and maintain strength to hold their body weight when climbing.  From a smaller playground rock wall to climbing a tree, children can feed their proprioceptive needs with climbing.  A well-regulated proprioceptive system leads to stronger body awareness, better self-regulation, and increased focus.

Motor Planning:  It is not always easy to figure out how to get from the ground to the top of a playground set, rock wall, or tree, so when children work in natural ways to figure it out, it helps improve their ability to motor plan.  For some children, their bodies are able to figure out proper hand and foot placement allowing them to safely do these activities, however other children require the demonstration or verbal cuing to help complete these tasks.  

Bilateral Coordination:  Climbing encourages the use of both arms and legs are moving in a reciprocated manner.  This strengthens a child's overall coordination and the ability to use both sides of the brain together.  Strong bilateral coordination skills contribute to accomplishing higher-level skills such as bike riding, and improving academic skills in the classroom.

The above skills are typically the focus of many therapy sessions, and can be addressed on equipment such as Southpaw's Climbing Rope Ladders, any components of the In-Fun-ity Climbing System, or their new Composite Climbing Wall that can even be used outdoors!

Once all the pieces of the climbing puzzle come together, children feel a sense of accomplishment, pride, and confidence. Very often we observe that child getting to the top saying, "I did it!" with a great big smile on his or her face!  So whether in the therapy setting or with the turn of the season, get outside to go to the park to climb the playground equipment, allow your child to climb an appropriate tree or even climb up the slide. There are many ways to incorporate climbing into your child's play, and put that "I did it" smile on their face while improving their overall development.

(It should be noted, that proper supervision and assistance should be provided based on child's size, skill, and age!) 
Product Spotlight
Bolster Swings
Bolster Swings
If a therapist has to select just one piece of hanging equipment, a Southpaw Bolster Swing is the best choice.

The Deluxe version of the Bolster Swings has all the features of the Bolster Swings, plus a detachable carpet that provides tactile stimulation. Held in place by hook-and-loop fasteners, the carpet increases the bolster's circumference to 29", which will accommodate larger children or adults.

Includes a built-in safety rotational device and vinyl-covered ropes for added client protection!

More Information
Southpaw Products
Interactive Star Infinity Panel 

Interactive Star Infinity Panel

This Interactive Star Infinity Panel gives the impression of an infinite field of stars that mesmerize.
Add an Interactive Super Switch or Interactive Power Cube to create a full range of opportunities for interactive activities.

Weighted Teddy Bear Blankets

Weighted Teddy Bear Blankets

These plush brown bears are soft and comforting to the touch and make therapy fun. The large Teddy Bear Blanket has a 16 lb. inner liner, while the smaller version has an 8 lb. inner liner. The inner liners are made using our proprietary laminating process to provide even weight distribution.