Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Children with Cold Hands and Feet

Here is something to consider when working with children who have neurological disorders. A recent thesis study revealed that children in wheelchairs with neurological disorders have different skin temperatures than in children without neurological disorders. The study showed that in children with neurological disorders the temperature of the feet was three degrees colder and the hands were two degrees colder. In addition, the children with the colder extremities also exhibited difficulties with constipation, sleeping and pain. The author comments on additional problems with balance when the feet are cold.

This press release was very interesting to me. Based on my own experiences, when my hands and feet are cold it can make me very distracted. The sensory input and message to my brain will sometimes overpower my focus or concentration on an activity. I will incessantly complain that "I am freezing, my toes are going to fall off, I can not feel my fingers, blah, blah, blah". With colds hands it is very difficult to manipulate items. I have seen myself shaking from the cold hands and being unable to put a key in to start a car. And I have an intact sensory system.

Now think of children with compromised sensory systems. This is one more aspect of the human body to explore when observing and evaluating function in children. How are fine motor and gross motor skills effected by changes in the temperature of the extremities of the body? How can we help children with this information? It would be very interesting to test how changes in skin temperature effects motor skills and attention skills... Anyone up for some research?

Reference: Eureka Alert Brain-damaged Children Often Hanve Cold Feet. Retreived from the web on 10/20/09 at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-10/uog-bco101909.php#


Bethany said...

As an adult with neurological issues including dysautonomia and complicated progressive spastic paraplegia, I can attest to the fact that when my hands go into a full "Raynauds phenomenon" freeze where they are several degrees colder than the rest of my body and a strange graying white color not only is it incredibly distracting but it limits my ability to functionally use my hands. It is as if I am wearing mittens made out of snow and I tend to fumble and struggle to get a grasp on anything. My feet are usually ice cold, but I do not really feel the temperature difference anymore. It used to be a huge annoyance, and it made my ataxia worse because it felt like I was walking on blocks of ice. Ironically, even though I experience this myself and I have observed this phenomenon in children with disabilities I never connected the two as a special education teacher. Sometimes it is the things right in front of your face that seem so obvious once someone else points them out!!

Your Therapy Source Inc said...

I agree completely. I felt the same way when I read this release - should have been more obvious to me in the past. Makes you think about what other smaller distractions effect the big picture???

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