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signs a child may need PT at school

Signs at School a Child May Need Physical Therapy

Teachers can be wonderful allies to the healthcare field. They spend up to 8 hours a day observing and helping children. Often times, they are the first to notice concerning signs, and when given the right tools, can direct parents where to go to get their children the help they need. Here a few signs teachers can look out for that would warrant a physical therapy screen.

5 Signs at School a Child May Need Physical Therapy:

  1. Unable to keep up with peers during recess or P.E – This may present as a child whosigns a child may need PT at school doesn’t follow friends onto the jungle gym or pulls themselves out of games of tag. A child would benefit from a physical therapy screen if they are unable to perform a jumping jack or skip forward.
  2. “W”-sits or props onto arm when sitting criss-cross – A child who sits in a “w” position or props onto their arm when sitting on the floor may present with weak core muscles. Weak core muscles result in a poor foundation for other fine motor skills, and may present in sloppy or slow handwriting, poor cutting skills, or decreased independence in self care tasks.
  3. Places both feet onto step when going up and down stairs – A child should be able to go up and down a set of stairs, without holding onto a handrail, by the age of 4. A child who presents difficulty, or immature form, during a stair task, may have lower extremity weakness, impaired balance, or developmental coordination disorder.
  4. Toe-Walking Toe-walking or early heel rise during gait (which may looking like bouncing while walking) can arise from a multitude of impairments including muscle tightness, core weakness, impaired balance, etc. Prolonged toe-walking may also result in any of the above, excessive falls, or muscle contractures.
  5. Poor sitting posture at desk – Poor posture may be a sign of decreased endurance of trunk muscles. Trunk weakness may also result in a poor foundation for fine motor skills, resulting in poor handwriting, decreased grasping ability, or decreased independence in self care tasks.

Click here to view our gross motor milestones infographic!

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!

10 Activities to Improve Balance

Balance is a great skill to help your child progress with their gross motor skills, leisure activities, and activities of daily living.

The following activities are various ways you can work on improving static and dynamic balance for improved performance in activities such as sports, games, self-care, and many more!

  1. Stand with one foot on the ground while the other foot is resting on a stool in front of the other foot. This is the primary skill in working towards balancing on one foot. If this is too easy, replace the stool with a ball that your child has to rest his or her foot on. Then, progress to just standing on one leg. To make it more challenging play a game (such as catch, zoom ball or balloon tennis) while balancing.
  2. Stand on top of a bosu ball. A bosu ball is an exercise ball cut in half with a flat plastic surface on the bottom. If your child gets really good at standing on top of the bosu ball, turn it upside down so that the ball is underneath and he or she is standing on the flat side. Once this is mastered, play catch while standing on the bosu ball.
  3. Stand on a balance board. A balance board is a flat surface made of wood or hard plastic that has a rounded or curved underside. This can be a very challenging activity just to stay upright!
  4. Simply stand on one foot! Make this into a contest with the whole family and see who can maintain their balance the longest.The person who wins gets to pick a family activity.
  5. Put two lines of tape on the ground and practice walking on a pretend balance beam. The space between the two pieces of tape could start large (6 inches) and progress to 4 inches apart. If your child steps out of bounds, he or she has to start again. By employing a balance beam that is flush with the ground, this will decrease any possible fear of falling. Once this becomes easier, utilize a real balance beam to work on more challenging balance skills.
  6. Sit on an exercise ball while playing a board game at the table. Don’t let your child put his or her feet on the ground while playing unless they need to make sure they don’t fall.
  7. Play hopscotch only while jumping on one foot. No switching feet is allowed! This makes the game slightly more challenging.
  8. Sit, kneel, or stand on a flat platform swing. Once you child can simply balance, play catch, zoomball, or balloon volleyball while sitting, kneeling, or standing.
  9. Stand on a trampoline with just one leg on the surface. To make this even more challenging, invite someone else to walk on the trampoline (or jump) while trying to keep your balance!
  10. Try any of the above activities with your eyes closed. Balancing with your eyes closed is significantly harder than having your eyes open. Therefore, if your child has mastered all of the above activities, make it one step harder to keep them challenged!

The possibilities are endless! Get creative and make these activities easier or harder depending on your child’s progression of skills.  By working on balance, your child will learn to use their muscles properly in order to adjust to changes in movement. This will set them up for success in playing games and sports with their peers! As always, ensuring your child’s safety during these activities is very important. Utilize pillows, mats, and adult supervision when practicing these activities.

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