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The Benefits of Contact Sports: Why Your Kids Should Participate

The football draft just completed and the season is right around the corner. And while it may not seem like it now, summer is almost here. All of this means children are and will be interested in getting out there and participating in organized contact sports. But what about the risks of a concussion or other injury? Blog-Contact Sports-Main-Portrait-01

While the risk of injury will always exist in contact sports, there are also many benefits to sports. Further, much progress has been made regarding awareness, and today, families and coaches have a better understanding of the signs and symptoms of concussions. Many experts agree that the benefits of being active and playing sports outweigh the risks of possible injury.

Benefits of organized contact sports include:

  • Respect: Children learn to listen to and respect teammates, coaches and officials. Also, children learn to follow rules and respect opponents.
  • Teamwork: Organized sports teach children to work with and help teammates in order to achieve a common goal. There is no “I” in team!
  • Discipline: Sports show children that discipline and playing by the rules are valuable assets. Penalties will only set you back!
  • Organization: Participation in organized sports teaches children how to stay organized and responsible. They have to be on time, take care of their equipment, and organize amongst themselves in order to succeed.
  • Protection: Through organized sports, children learn to protect themselves, teammates, and opponents.
  • Confidence: Organized sports improves a child’s self-image and confidence. Moreover, sports teach children that they can improve their performance through hard work and practice, a valuable lesson.

And of course, children benefit from regular exercise and activity. Organized sports increase a child’s physical health and cardiovascular conditioning and decrease the risk of childhood obesity.

Here are some ways you can keep your children safe while they participate in contact sports:

  • Be vocal about safety. Engage coaches, officials, and league organizers in conversations about safe and fair play. Discuss these topics with your children as well.
  • Ensure safe and proper equipment. Depending on the sport, make sure your child is dressed in proper equipment, such as helmets, pads, and proper footwear. Make sure all equipment fits properly in order to maximize safety! Discuss your child’s equipment with coaches and league organizers if you aren’t sure.
  • Be aware of concussion signs and symptoms. Headaches, dizziness, imbalance and nausea are the most frequent indicators of concussions. Unconsciousness is not a requirement!
  • Be aware of concussion treatment guidelines. If a concussion is suspected, stop activity immediately and have the child seen by a doctor as soon as possible. Rest, both physical and mental, are key to recovering from a concussion. That, of course, means a break from physical activity, but it also means a break from school and TV.

With awareness and proper precautions, your child can experience the many benefits of organized contact sports in a safe and fun way!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

Meet-With-A-Physical-Therapist

Keeping Fitness on Track at School

Your elementary and middle school child spends the majority of his or her week in school– 7-7.5 hours per day, 5 days per week adding up to 35-37.5 hours per week. But don’t forget the average Blog-Fitness-Main-Landscapeof 3 hours per week of homework for kindergarten-8th graders. With long days in school sitting at desks, doing homework, increased time in front of televisions, on cell phones, or in front of computers, now, more than ever, it is important to make sure your child has ways to stay active. With so much time spent in school each week, what better avenue could there be to incorporate fitness in your child’s routine than in school? Physical education classes are a great start, but is there more they could be doing?

Here are Some Options You Can Present to Your PTA for Additional Fitness Programming:

  1. Apex Fun Run

Instead of using the old-school chocolate bar or wrapping paper sales, Apex is a company that utilizes fitness as a means of fund raising. Their goal is to encourage fitness and healthy lifestyles among elementary school-aged children while also helping schools raise money. Apex team members spend 2 weeks at a school teaching a curriculum about healthy lifestyle choices, ways to stay active, and assistance in getting the kids sponsors, culminating in the fun run!

https://www.apexfunrun.com/

  1. NFL Play 60 – School

Play 60 school is a program sponsored by the NFL to encourage 60 minutes of play every day. The NFL has partnered with the National Dairy Counsel, American Heart Association, and Brax Fundraising to create different programs for incorporating fitness in schools. This includes a focus on healthy food choices, implementing activity breaks during daily curriculums, and fundraising by selling various sports team SpiritCups.

http://www.nflrush.com/play60/school

  1. Presidential Fitness Testing

Most schools already implement Presidential Fitness Testing in their regular physical education curriculum. However, if your school does not or if you are interested in more information about the programming, take a look at the website. The Presidential Youth Fitness Programming allows students to individually track their fitness progress and achievements.

https://www.presidentschallenge.org/challenge/pyfp.shtml

Sources:

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/02/27/students-spend-more-time-on-homework-but-teachers-say-its-worth-it

https://apexfunrun.com/Home/PlayfForApex

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Video Games That Get You Moving

Getting your child off the couch and active can be challenging. With video games and iPads, it can be hard to pry your child away from the screens. But what if the screens can work for you? There are many video games on various systems that get your body moving, heart rate up, and can be a lot of fun!

Here are a few games on different systems that will surely make your child break a sweat while having a great time!Blog-Video-Games-Main-Portrait

  1. Xbox – Kinect Sports

Kinect Sports uses a sensor to track your body movements while playing fun sports games including soccer, volleyball, baseball and more. Unlike other systems that only track your upper body, Kinect Sports also tracks your legs for a full body workout!

If you are looking for more intense activities, try Track and Field. Go for the gold in sprints, hurdles, the long jump, and discus – you’ll feel like you’re in the Olympics!

  1. Wii Sports

Wii Sports uses a wand controller to simulate the real game. This systems features games like baseball, golf, tennis, boxing and bowling. The greatest part: you can play against a friend!

  1. PlayStation Move + Eye

The PlayStation Move is a wand controller that works with the PlayStation Eye camera to track the player’s movements. Because some of the games use both the wand and the Eye, you will be put into the game, literally! The PlayStation Move features games such as soccer, tennis, bowling, golf, dancing, and more.

  1. Just Dance – Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation

Just Dance is compatible with many systems that use a camera to track your movements. You can dance with three of your friends to today’s top hits and yesterday’s classics. This is my personal favorite to have fun and exercise in a creative way.

Now that you have a list of some awesome, fun games for your home system, it’s time to get active and move your body!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

10 Simple Calm Down Strategies For Teens

 

Adolescence is a time of major development marked by significant changes.  One change that is often recognized during adolescence is an increase in emotionality.  Some teens can be negative, moody, and difficult to communicate with.  Furthermore, hormonal changes during this period of life can lead individuals to experience strong and sometimes unpredictable changes in affect.

Due to these changes in the emotional lives of adolescents, it becomes increasingly important to help your teenagers learn to appropriately cope with discomfort.  In today’s blog, I write about strategies that teenagers can employ to help themselves calm down when feeling upset.  Feeling upset can come from a variety of stressors (and teens have lots of them!).  Different individuals respond to stress in different ways.  The strategies listed here are intended to be starting points for you and your teenage son or daughter to consider.  It’s important to remember that what works well on one occasion may not be as effective the next time.  As teens continue to develop and mature, they acquire a better sense of how to take control of various emotional states.  As humans, while we can’t always change the way we feel, we can consider our typical responses to stress and engage in strategies that can help us cope with uncomfortable emotions.

10 calm-down strategies for teens:

  1. Talk it out- Unlike younger children who are still learning to use language effectively in a variety10 Calm Down Strategies for Teens of situations, teenagers have increased cognitive and language skills that help them think about their situations and explore potential solutions. If your teenager is upset, it may be helpful to give him/her the opportunity to talk it out.  This can include identifying the problem, discussing why it’s a problem, potential solutions, and other thoughts/feelings/reactions to the current situation.
  2. Draw – Drawing is a form of expression. Sometimes when individuals get very upset, talking (as suggested above) can be challenging.  Instead, it may help some teens to draw a picture of something they enjoy, or to express on paper how they are feeling at the moment.  Some research has suggested that coloring shapes (such as mandalas) can have calming effects on people.
  3. Write – Writing is yet another form of expression. Teenagers can write about whatever they’d like.  This can serve as a distraction as well as an outlet.  It may be helpful for some individuals to keep an ongoing journal or diary and write about their day to day experiences.
  4. Read – If you’re a reader, then you know that reading can be a soothing or calming activity. Some teens, on the other hand, may hate to read.  Remember, there are many things that one can read: books, magazines, comic books, graphic novels, books on tape, etc.
  5. Music – This is one of my personal favorites. The experience of music can touch the emotional side of many individuals.  Teenagers can chose to listen to a song that describes how they feel.  Or perhaps they can listen to calming, instrumental music while lying down.  Playing an instrument can serve as a great feel-better activity as well!
  6. Exercise – Regular exercise is good for us for many reasons, including mental health. This suggestion, however, speaks to exercising as a form of directing angry or upset energy.
  7. Focus on the positives– For example, make a list of things to be grateful for, or of kind acts you noticed today. During times of stress, our outlook is often clouded which makes it easy to only focus on the negatives.
  8. Change up the setting- Don’t get stuck in a rut. This suggestion is a follow-up from number 6.  It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of negative.  So, when needing to calm down, move to a different room, change the TV/music in the room, adjust the lighting, etc.
  9. Take a step back from the situation – Reflect on what is really making you mad. Often times our minds can become clouded with the many stressors of life.  It’s common for one to displace their anger/frustration on someone close to them.  (for example- A sixteen year old got in trouble at school and upon arriving at home “goes-off” on his younger brother for accidentally bumping into him.  This sixteen year old isn’t really upset at his brother, he’s upset at getting in trouble earlier in the day.)
  10. Say what you need (in a respectful yet assertive way) – Teenagers are continuing to build their self-advocacy skills. Advocating for one’s self includes speaking up when necessary and being able to appropriately request what one needs.

Lastly, parents reading this blog are urged to take a close look at your own calm-down strategies and habits.  Be sure to model how to stay in control of yourself even in the face of frustration or upset.  Do you have more ideas on ways for teenagers to calm themselves?  Please share below!


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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

 

Self-Care Tips From A Mental Health Practitioner

As a mental health practitioner, I strive to educate my clients and families about the art of balance. It is not to say that indulging in delicious foods is “all bad” and being organized, routinized, and ahead of the curve is “all good.” What type of professional would I be if I didn’t practice what I preach? Here are some of my self-care tips that keep me happy, keep me healthy, and most of all, keep me balanced.

Self-Care Tips:self care tips

  1. Find time to exercise. Not only does it help keep your physique, it provides for an undisturbed outlet of “me time.” I use this opportunity to release stress, challenge my strength, and be tech-free save my iPod. I am unplugged and truly get to focus in the moment.
  2. You are what you eat. I am a firm believer that diet impacts the way you think, the way you feel, and how you navigate the trial and tribulations of daily life. If I am hungry, forget it. I eat balanced, nutritious meals that provide me fuel to get me through the day and are nutrient-dense. I have recalibrated my expectations for feeding to reflect foods that provide nutritional value and taste good. The goal of eating is not to live to eat, but to eat to live. Indulging at times is essential but I feel that taking control over my food choices positively impacts my mood. I control what I eat, whether it is kale or deep dish pizza and that makes all the difference.
  3. Know your limits. If you have had a long week and would prefer to veg on the couch vs. go out to dinner with friends, do just that. I have learned that the company you keep will be in your corner regardless. We live in an age of FOMO (fear of missing out) and this can often influence us to push our boundaries and offset the things that are essential for us to feel good. If you think it would be wise to stay in, you can always reschedule. There will always be other opportunities to socialize.
  4. Know when to say NO. It’s amazing all of the things we are capable of completing, accomplishing, and doing in a day. At the end of the night, I always like to reflect and see how many tasks I have been able to squeeze into that day and it amazes me at how much can be done. But that doesn’t mean it ALWAYS has to be that jam-packed. Yes, some days are hectic and full but make sure that not every day is filled to the brim otherwise you risk burnout, cranky moods, and illness.

Click here for more self-care tips when you are a parent.

NSPT offers mental health services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Zumba for Kids

We all know the many benefits of exercise for people of all ages: physical fitness, endurance, strength, coordination, and zumba for kidsmotor planning.  However, making physical fitness a regular part of daily routines can be a real challenge not only for adults, but also for children.  Many children who live more sedentary lifestyles require more motivation to get moving, since it has become their habit to be still.   So what is the trick to increasing kid’s enthusiasm for fitness and getting sedentary kids off the couch?  It’s simple: FUN!  Fitness for children, just like any other children’s programming, should be fun, socially appealing and inviting!

A common activity that many families find enjoyable for all ages is Zumba!  Zumba is a dance-fitness combination that includes culturally diverse music and various elements of dance and cardio, including Hip Hop, Latin dancing, and traditional aerobics.  Zumba is a wonderfully unique fitness program that is set off by its enjoyable, party-like scene.  The bright, bold wardrobe colors, loud music, and rhythmic beats create an energetic and enticing place to get fit.  Zumba is also great for kids! Read more

The Power of Push-Ups

“It’s too cold, I get bored, I’m so out of shape,” or, my personal favorite, “I’d rather eat this slice of pizza.” These are all too familiar push-ups childutterances between my friends and I. Excuses of why-not to workout come in all shapes, sizes and extremes. Believe me, this winter, I have attempted to validate my sedentary lifestyle in order to avoid the hardships of physical exertion in the most creative and far-fetched of ways. As the cold winter weather looms over Chicago, I try to remind myself that sometimes, even the most basic of exercises can lead to big results. One such exercise is the infamous push-up. Push-ups vary in types and levels of complexity to those who complete them. They are an extremely advantageous exercise for adults and children alike.

Below is an outline of some of the most basic of push-ups:

  • Knee Push-Ups: Begin by kneeling on the floor. Walk your hands out in front of your body so that they are palms down, Read more

Recreational Activities to Promote Gross Motor Skills

It is often that parents ask me for recommendations for suitable physical extracurricular activities for their children that will also help to gymnasticsfacilitate the gross motor skills we work on in therapy. Extracurricular activities are a great way for your child to socialize with his or her peers and physical activities are the perfect way to make sure your child is getting sufficient exercise each day. I strongly recommend any activity that your child is interested in because the best results occur when your child is invested in what he or she is doing.

On the other hand, if your child does not have any preference or is open to trying new things, there are 2 extracurricular activities that I strongly recommend families to look into:

  • Gymnastics– This is a great activity for a variety of reasons. For example, gymnastics focuses greatly on a variety of gross motor skills, such as balance and jumping in a variety of different positions and on a variety of different surfaces. This helps your child generalize these skills so he/she will perform better in our constantly changing environment. Gymnastics also helps with core, arm and leg strengthening and works on coordination between different body parts.
  • Swimming– Swimming is another great activity that targets core and arm and leg strengthening. Along with strengthening, swimming is helpful for working on your child’s bilateral coordination. A majority of swimming strokes require different movements from the arms and legs simultaneously as well as at  different times.

Regardless of what recreational activity your child chooses to participate in, they all are positive for your child’s physical and social development. On the other hand, if you have concerns about your child’s physical functioning, please contact a physical therapist at North Shore Pediatric Therapy.

Hop 2 Health : A Pediatric Weight Management Program

Obesity and being overweight are the biggest health issues facing our children today. Not only that, these issues can have serious kids exercisingeffects on kids, in both the short and the long-term.

Obese children report a lower quality of life and are at risk for developing serious health issues during childhood and adolescence, such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol and/or high triglycerides)
  • Asthma
  • Sleep apnea
  • Depression
  • And more

With the New Year upon us, and pediatric obesity at the forefront of our nation’s health concerns, North Shore Pediatric Therapy is offering a multidisciplinary, family-based pediatric weight management program:

Hop 2 Health

Hop 2 Health has been developed following the model that research shows to be the most effective treatment for childhood obesity. It is multi-disciplinary, which means your child will work with a registered dietitian, physical therapist and social worker to address and improve all factors that are part of this complicated issue. It is family-based, which means you, as a parent, will be informed and involved in your child’s journey to health since you are so instrumental in their success outside of the program. It is an on-going program that involves weekly group sessions where your child can engage with and lean on other kids that are struggling with the same issues. The learning experiences through which your child will gain information about making healthy choices for life are fun, engaging and totally geared towards kids. Your child will also receive individualized care through periodic one-on-one visits with our team of experts.

All of these key components of the program will give your child one of the best opportunities to make real changes to their life. Our mission is to provide a positive atmosphere, where kids will be given the tools and learn strategies to become healthier, and more importantly, build self-esteem to know that they can do it. For more information about Hop 2 Health, please go to this link on our website: www.Hop2Health.com.

Here, you can register for the program that will be starting soon. Space is limited.
As a parent, your child’s health and well-being is your number-one priority. Register now and start 2013 knowing that your child is on the path to better health.

You can also call 877-486-4140 to speak with one of our Family Child Advocates for additional information about Hop 2 Health. We are offering free screens to help determine if your child may benefit from participating in Hop 2 Health. Contact 877-486-4140 to set up a free screen.       


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What Makes Exercise So Good For the Body?

>We’ve all heard it before. You should be exercising at least 5 times each week for at least 30-60 minutes. We all know that exercise is kids exercising beneficial for your heart, but why exactly is exercise so good for the body and why is it crucial to exercise so frequently? The list of answers to these questions could go on for pages; below is a condensed version of what exercise does to benefit the body and why it is vital to be consistent with your exercise routine.

Why Exercise is So Important:

  • Cardiovascular-This is the big one that people typically think of when considering the importance of exercise. The heart is a muscle, similar to your biceps or hamstrings. This means that the more you work your heart, the stronger it will become and the more efficiently it will work. Consistent exercise can also result in decreased blood pressure as well as reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Bones-Your bones are constantly remodeling themselves, laying down bone where it is needed and removing it from where it is not. When you exercise, your muscles contract and pull on their attachment sites on your bones. This triggers your body to ensure that the bone involved becomes strong . This process occurs no matter what type of exercise you are performing, whether it is a high-impact run or an activity that does not involve any weight bearing, such as swimming or weight lifting. This results in improved bone density (how strong your bone is). You reach your maximum bone density around the age of 30. After that point, it will slowly decline as you age;however, exercise can significantly decrease the rate at which your bone density declines over the years. This becomes especially important in the older individuals in which Osteoporosis, or a significantly low bone density, is very common.
  • Lungs– Similar to the heart, your lungs become much more efficient when you consistently exercise. Not only are your lungs able to take in greater volumes of air, but they also are able to extract more oxygen from the air with each breath.
  • Muscles, tendons and ligaments-These structures, just like bone, rebuild themselves based upon the stresses that are placed upon them. By increasing the tensile force of your tendons or ligaments, you can decrease the risk of an injury to these structures with regular exercise.
  • Body mass-A person’s body weight is the complex result of a number of things. Some of these things can be modified, such as physical activity, and some cannot, such as genetics;however, part of controlling one’s weight is to balance the amount of energy taken in along with the energy used. Incorporating physical activity into daily life is one way to help keep these two things balanced.
A common theme among all of these benefits is the fact that you need to continue exercising in order to maintain the benefits gained. This is why it is so important to consistently incorporate exercise into your daily routine.  If you have concerns about you or your child’s physical activity level, you should schedule a consultation with a physical therapist. If you have a medical condition that may impact your ability to exercise, make sure you speak with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

Physical Therapy Posts

5 Top Chicago and North Shore Gyms for Children After They Graduate from Physical Therapy

My Gym

my gym logo
My Gym offers programs and classes to that are designed to help children that are 6 weeks through 13 years of age to develop physically, cognitively and emotionally.  They offer structured weekly classes that incorporate music, dance, relays, games, special rides, gymnastics, sports and more. Children will gain strength, balance, coordination, agility and flexibility while developing social skills, confidence and self-esteem. Classes are separated by ages: “Little Bundles” (6 weeks- 6 months), “Tiny Tykes” (7-13 months), “Waddlers” (14-22 months), “Gymsters” (23 Months – 2.5 years) and etc. Programs include Camp, Parents’ Night Out, Fit & Fun Days, Karate/Martial Arts and Free Play.

Little Gym little gym logo

The Little Gym of Chicago takes a holistic “Three-Dimensional Learning” approach to skill development. Their philosophy is based upon three core tenets: “Get Moving” to foster flexibility, strength, balance and coordination; “Brain Boost” to nurture listening skills, concentration and decision making; and “Citizen Kid” to promote sharing, teamwork, cooperation and leadership abilities. They offer programs and classes that are categorized by age: Parent/Child Classes for 4 months-3 years, Gymnastics for 4-6 years, Gymnastics for 6-12 years, Sports Skills for 3-6 years, Karate for 4-12 years and Dance for 3-12 years. There is also a WonderKids Club for 3-4 year olds that focuses on learning and development.

Bubbles Academy bubbles academy logo

Bubbles Academy offers events, programs, classes and play opportunities for children as well as their parents. Their class curriculum focuses on Motor Skills, Language, Attention, Self Expression, Socialization, Empathy and Confidence. The Bubbles Academy offers a free trial class. Their play-based enrichment courses include music, creative movement, art, yoga, independence, imagination, swimming, cooking and dance. Our educational series is progressive, including preschool preparation, gentle separation and an alternative preschool option. Programs are categorized based upon age groups and milestones: Babies (including Newborns, Bubble Music and Aqua Bubbles), Crawlers, Walkers, 2-3 years, 3-5 years, Family, Adult Fitness, Sibling Care and various camps.

Gymboree gymboree logo

Gymboree Play & Music has been fostering creativity and confidence in children of ages 0-5 for over 30 years. The play-type activities are designed to help develop the cognitive, physical and social skills of children. The class curriculum is based on a balanced whole-child approach with activities to support what your child is mastering currently and what he or she will aspire to master later. Classes are designed in 6-month increments in order to meet a child’s unique interests and abilities. Gymboree classes include Play & Learn, Music, Art, Sports, Family Fun and Social Skills.

Little Beans Cafe little beans

At Little Beans, kids have the freedom to play, learn, imagine and create in a custom interactive indoor playground. The premise of Little Beans Café is to provide families with a place to play together. It provides parents with a café atmosphere while providing kids with an interactive indoor village to explore and socialize. Little Beans have free-play, supervised play, classes, events, parties, camps and play groups.

3 At home Exercises For Torticollis | Pediatric Therapy Tv

Here our Pediatric Physical Therapist gives viewers 3 examples of exercises that parents can perform at home with their child who has torticollis.  For more blogs by experts on Torticollis, click here

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • 3 great exercises a parent can do at home with their child who has Torticollis
  • A great alternative to Tummy Time
  • How to get your child to actively move around
  • How to perform an easy pull to sit exercise and why that helps

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now, your host, here’s
Robyn.

Robyn: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I am your host,
Robyn Ackerman, and today I am sitting here with Jesse Coffelt,
who is a pediatric physical therapist. Jesse, can you please let
us know three exercises that we can do with a baby who has been
diagnosed with torticollis?

Jesse: Absolutely. There are three great exercises, and obviously
tummy time is going to be hugely important for these kiddos.
This is a great carry I like to do with babies, where my hand is
supporting the baby’s chest here. It can be comfortable. You can
carry the child here. You can put your hand on her, and she’s
always got to lift up her head to be looking around. So she’s
getting that tummy time equivalent.

Another one that’s really good is you can hold the baby up like
this. Again, you can be engaging with your child, and you can
kind of just be tipping her side to side, looking at her, really
getting her to actively move around.

The third one, if I could just place the doll right here, it’s
like a pull-to-sit exercise. What you’re doing is you’re going
to grasp the child by her hands and just gently and slowly lift
her up. What you’re looking for is making sure that she is
lifting her neck up and she’s actively engaging her abdominals.
You can come up here to sitting, and then slowly take her back
down to laying on the ground. The slower you move, the more
she’s got to actively work and strengthen those muscles.

Robyn: All right, great. Thank you so much, Jesse, and thank you to
our viewers. And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of
mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To
subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit
our website at LearnMore.me. That’s LearnMore.me.

How to get your Child to do PT Exercise without Feeling like “The Bad Guy”

Wow, you are sitting down to read this. You are lucky to take the minute between gift shopping, cleaning for your relatives to girl doing physical therapyvisit, packing for your own vacation to get away from your relatives, and the 13th version of the Nutcracker ballet that you have seen since January. I say that you are in luck, as I have hidden the winning lottery numbers in the text of this blog.

With the excitement of the holidays, and the variety of directions that children and parents are pulled these days, I have a lot of parents looking to advocate for their children and wanting strategies on how to best support their child’s growth towards his physical therapy goals. In that vein, I reached out to Beth Chung, MSMFT, AMFT, one of North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s brilliant Marriage
and Family Therapists. I asked her several of the questions I am frequently asked:

“My child won’t do their PT ‘homework'”

“Work towards a goal.”  Beth answers.  You can help motivate your child by creating a star chart. These charts work for behavior as well as exercises. This chart can track your child’s progress with his/her exercises, and gives you something physical you can use to motivate him/her throughout the week (“Let’s look at your star chart. Look! You did such a wonderful job yesterday of doing all your leg exercises. I know you can do it again today!”). It can also allow your child to work toward a goal (ex. 5 days of completed exercises can lead to a reward.) Some of the best rewards for this can involve spending time with the family, and possibly something physically active. You can find active family-friendly places here. But don’t forget that walking through the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Chicago Botanical Gardens, any of these museums, or even through a park near home can be just as entertaining.

“Break it down.” You utilize immediate rewards. This works great for privileges the kids already get, such as time on the computer (for non-homework activities) or time with video games. For example, 15 minutes of a PT exercise can correlate to a certain amount of time with electronics.

“Dive in with them.” Most of the exercises you can do right along-side them. [Quick note, as long as you do not have a condition that would worsen if you performed them.]

“My child doesn’t believe me when I say that it’s important”

“Go to the source.” Set up a meeting with your child and the clinician she is working with. That clinician has experience, education, and research to back-up the activities she suggests. When the child can see that her parents and PT or OT are a team, it reinforces what they each say.

“Encourage your child’s questions.” Getting your child to “buy-in” to her exercise routine is essential, or it will be a struggle every day. Use what you know is important to your child (ex. Playing on the soccer team next year or feeling physically strong). Explain to your child how engaging in homework exercises can meet these goals, and praise your child throughout the process (ex. “I noticed that you ran faster today than I’ve ever seen you run! Those exercises must really be helping!”).

“Can’t we just take a couple of weeks off of exercise?”

“No.” This time of year is stressful for almost everyone. Finding creative ways to incorporate exercises into your routine is the key to success. Taking just a few days off of exercises can be a big set-back, and slow progress towards your goals. Here is a link to some fun movement activities.

“Explore your own feelings and thoughts as parents.” It may feel tempting to allow your child to take time off from the exercise, especially during the busy holiday season. Something to keep in mind, however, is that PT or OT occurs one hour out of your week and that, as clinicians, we rely on parents to continue to encourage your children to practice various exercises during the week. One way to think about it is that your PT or OT is your consultant, who can give you strategies and exercises, and that you are the coach to empower your child in his daily life!

To reiterate Beth’s point, we as clinicians see your kids for 1/168th of the week, or approximately 0.6% of the week. You are the expert on your child, and you are her primary influence. So it is essential that parents and clinicians work together to fully facilitate the homework program and maintain consistency with the exercises.

Enjoy your time with your kids and, when you win the lottery, remember who provided you with those numbers.

A Healthy Start to 2012: Featuring Expertise from a Pediatric Physical Therapist

With a new year just around the corner, many people are likely reflecting on the past year and thinking ahead to goals and resolutions for the next. One important topic to consider is physical health. What better time to begin a fresh fitness regime for the whole family than the start of a new year?boy eating hamburger

Childhood Weight Statistics:

The rate of obesity has tripled in adolescents in the United States over the last 20 years. 16-25% of children 6 to 19 years of age in the United States are overweight, and 7-19% are obese. Rates are even higher in economically disadvantaged ethnic minority groups. Furthermore, between 70-80% of obese adolescents will become obese adults. Many families have expressed concerns about their children’s weight and physical health and have asked about ways to address these issues. Lucky for them, North Shore Pediatric Therapy is a multidisciplinary team in which therapists from various fields collaborate to provide holistic services for children. To delve deeper into the topic of how to ensure and maintain a healthy lifestyle, I consulted Jesse Coffelt, PT, DPT, of our pediatric physical therapists.

How do you talk to your children about your concerns about their weight in a straightforward, yet sensitive manner?

“Be sensitive, but be an adult.” Jesse suggests a balance between talking to children about their weight and physical fitness in a gentle way, while acting as the head of the household through concrete decision making. One way Jesse suggests talking to children is to check in with them about their perspectives. For example, if your children used to play sports at school but no longer seem to enjoy them, you can say, “I notice you don’t run around as much with your friends as you used to. Why is that?” Jesse explains that most children will answer that they cannot keep up. This, then, is a great entry point to talk to your children about their fitness goals (ex. “Would you like to be able to play on the soccer team this spring?”) and how to get there (ex. “To play on the soccer team, we will have to make some changes so that you feel more confident and prepared. I know you can do it!”).

As a therapist specializing in mental health, I would also suggest anticipating your children’s reactions. All children are different and receive constructive feedback in various ways. If you know that your children will have a challenging time with specific language (ex. “I notice that you’ve gained a few pounds”), think of ways to help your children respond positively so that they will actively participate in a new fitness regime!

How do you know there is an obesity/weight issue?

“The best method to determine whether your children’s height, weight, and body fat are in a healthy range is to calculate their Body Mass Index (BMI). Check out these 2 helpful websites (http://www.bcm.edu/cnrc/bodycomp/bmiz2.html) ( http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/growth/bmi_charts.html?tracking=P_RelatedArticle)  BMI calculators and additional information. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defined overweight as between the 85th to 95th percentile of BMI for age and obese as at or above the 95th percentile of BMI for age.”

 How do you implement a family fitness regime?

  • “Avoid extremes.” Jesse suggests that one simple, yet effective way to implement a new health regime is to reassess the family diet. Cutting out sugary juices and soda in place for water, for example, is a simple way to decrease the number of unhealthy calories and increase the intake of water (health fact: did you know that half of your body weight is the number in ounces of water you should drink per day?). Jesse also warns against extremes (ex. No more desserts forever) and instead recommends healthy alternatives. Click here for a fun, child-friendly, holiday snacking guide!
  • “Have fun with it!” Creating a fitness regime can be fun! Involve the entire family and take family classes at the local gym (ie. Family Zumba is a great option for an energetic dance class open to all ages and levels), spruce up daily walks (ie. Make it a scavenger hunt), engage in friendly competitions (ie. Click here for indoor gross motor activities), and once in awhile, treat your children to creative outings involving physical activity! The president’s challenge is an excellent program and resource with tips and strategies for maintaining a physically active and healthy lifestyle for children and adults!
  • “Don’t get discouraged.” Jesse explains that it takes at least six weeks to increase muscle mass and that you may not recognize changes in body composition. Set goals and keep a log of everyone’s weight so you can really track your success!

Happy 2012! Please share with us your family’s health and fitness goals for the new year!