Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Free Math and Movement App

Click on video below to watch
Here is another app that combines physical activity and basic math skills from PBS Kids called Fetch Lunch Rush.  This iPhone app is free and you will need to print off the pdf pages of the numbers online before you can use it.  It is a simple, fun game that gets kids moving, doing addition and using technology.

Once you print the pdf document with the numbers cut out all the numbers.  Place them around the room, gym or even outdoors, the bigger the space the more the physical activity.  Open up the app, choose the number of players, choose names to play with and you are ready to go.  Fetch will show you the orders with the simple addition problems.  You have to find the correct answer and take a picture of it to complete the order.  In each round the player fills three orders and the time is recorded.

I love this app and love this idea for many more apps!  This makes learning your addition facts so much more fun than flashcards and you are squeezing in some physical activity.  You can hang the number cards in high and low places so children have to squat down or reach up high.  Even children who were proficient in their math addition facts enjoy playing to try and beat the clock or the other players.  You can watch this short clip of a boy playing the game.

Read more about apps and physical activity

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

5 Back to School Tips to Help Students with Motor Planning Deficits

Here are 5 back to school tips for students with motor planning deficits:

1.  Take a tour:  It can be difficult for children with motor planning issues to adapt to a new classroom, new hallways and new obstacles.  Make sure the student feels comfortable in the new environment by allowing him/her ample time to explore the room by moving through the room.  Walk around the desks and chairs, sit down and stand up in the classroom chair and walk to the teacher's desk or exit.  By practicing these activities, preferably with no one in the classroom to start, it helps the student to develop a motor map of the area.  Try to do the same with walking to the cafeteria, gym and other rooms.

2.  Use the same supplies to start:  Many classrooms share supplies but it may help the student to generate automatic motor plans quicker by using the same school supplies every time.  For example, iIf you change the pencil (ie short, long, sharp, dull, etc) you need a different motor plan.  If you change the brand of scissors you may need a new motor plan.    

3.  Use signs and cues:  If the student needs visual cues to assist with motor planning, hang up signs to indicate different areas of the classroom or school.  You could have the student follow red dots on the floor to the exit door.  This will provide an extra visual cue to assist the student in formulating motor plans.  Perhaps put a check list on the student's desk for what steps they need to take to pack up their things at the end of the day.  These visual cues help the student to complete the skill independently without having to ask for help. 

4.  Keep it the same:  Keep the set up of the classroom the same for the first few weeks so that the student is prepared for what objects they need to move around in order to negotiate the classroom. 

5.  Break large tasks into small tasks:  Children with motor planning issues benefit from breaking down large tasks into smaller chunks.  For example, instead of completing an entire project in one night spread it out across several nights to complete it.  Due to new stressors during back to school time, even children who have made great progress in their abilities to formulate motor plans may need to use this technique at the start of the school year.

Read another post on exploring spaces and body awareness. 

Check out Locomotor Games to practice motor planning skills.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sensory Processing, Behavior and Cognition in Preschoolers with Autism

The American Journal of Occupational Therapy published a retrospective study on sensory processing, problem behavior, adaptive behavior and cognition in 42 preschoolers with autism.  The results indicated the following:
  • a significant relationship between degree of sensory processing impairment and level of problem behavior
  • a weak relationship between sensory processing and adaptive behavior
  •  level of sensory impairments was not correlated with level of cognitive ability
  • 26% of children who scored >1 standard deviation below the mean on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Composite did not have sensory differences according to the Short Sensory Profile.
You can read the full text of this study at AJOT.  

You can find additional resources for sensory processing disorder from Your Therapy Source Inc.

References:  helley O’Donnell, Jean Deitz, Deborah Kartin, Theresa Nalty, and Geraldine Dawson. Sensory Processing, Problem Behavior, Adaptive Behavior, and Cognition in Preschool Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Am J Occup Ther September 2012 66:586-594; doi:10.5014/ajot.2012.004168

Friday, August 24, 2012

Activity Video Idea - Eye Foot Coordination and Active Hip ROM

Here is a simple activity idea to use with children or adults.  Place a small velcro strap around the individual's foot.  Have the individual sit down in a chair.  Roll a tennis ball towards the feet.  The person tries to "catch" the tennis ball with the foot, lift the leg to remove the ball and roll it back.  If you want to challenge balance at the same time try this activity on a t stool, therapy ball or in standing.  This activity encourages:
  1. eye foot coordination
  2. eye hand coordination to remove the ball
  3. motor planning
  4. crossing midline
  5. active hip range of motion
  6. precursor activity to donning/ doffing socks and shoes
Have a look -

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Weight, Gender and Gross Motor Classification in Children with Cerebral Palsy

Pediatrics has published clinical growth charts for children with cerebral palsy.  Research was conducted using 102,163 measurements of weight from 25,545 children with cerebral palsy in California.  The researchers established growth charts for children with cerebral palsy based on Gross Motor Function Classification System level and gender.  Overall the research indicated that children with low weights are at greater risk for nutritional issues, major medical conditions and death.

You can download the full article at Pediatrics

You can download the growth charts at Life

Reference:  Jordan Brooks, Steven Day, Robert Shavelle,and David Strauss Low Weight, Morbidity, and Mortality in Children With Cerebral Palsy: New Clinical Growth Charts. Pediatrics 2011; 128:2 e299-e307; published ahead of print July 18, 2011, doi:10.1542/peds.2010-2801

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bringing Movement into the Classroom

Here is a free hand out from the What? Why? and How? Series 1 download - Movement in the Classroom.  This is great hand out to give to teachers to explain why bringing movement into the classroom is important and tips on how to do it.   Download it at YourTherapySource.

Monday, August 20, 2012

3 Simple Group Games with a Hula Hoop

Here are three simple group games to play using a hula hoop:

1.  Circle Hoop - the group of children should stand in a circle all holding hands.  Have one pair of children unclasp hands and place a hoop on one child's arm.  They should all hold hands again.  The goal is to move the hula hoop around the entire circle never breaking the chain of hands.  Children will have to bend over, squat down and stand on one leg to get the hoop over the head to pass the hoop to the next child.  This is a great activity to encourage balance practice and motor planning.

2.  Through the Hoop - Break up the group into several small teams (about 3 children in each group).  Give each group one hula hoop.  Establish a starting line and another line about 10-20 feet away.  The first person in each group runs to the line that is 10-20 feet away and holds the hoop several inches off the ground.  Then the next person runs down, climbs through the hoop and back to the starting line.  The third person runs down, climbs through the hoop and back to the starting line.  The first person climbs through the hoop while holding it and runs back to start.  The first team with all three players through the hoop is the winner.

3. Hula Hoop Obstacle Course -  Divide the group into a few teams.  Give each team one hula hoop.  Place a few chairs, cones or obstacles in a line.  On go, the first player on each team tries to roll the hula hoop around the chairs or cones back to the starting line.  Then the next player goes until each player has gone.  First team to complete the course is the winner.

What are some of your favorite group games using only a hula hoop?

Need more ideas for groups?  Check out 25 Instant Sensory Motor Group Activities or  Sensory Motor Group Activities from A to Z.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lowe's Toolbox for Education Grant

Lowe's Toolbox for Education Grant is currently accepting applications for $2000 - $5000 until October 12, 2012 or 1500 applicants (whichever comes first).   Public schools or Parent Teacher Organizations are eligible to apply.  The website states there is a "preference for funding requests that have a permanent impact such as facility enhancement (both indoor and outdoor) as well as landscaping/clean up type projects. Projects that encourage parent involvement and build stronger community spirit will be favored".

Maybe you would like to add a piece of equipment to your playground to include all children?  You can get more information at Lowe's Toolbox for Education. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What, Why and Who?

This might seem super obvious but as the school year starts out don't forget to tell the students, school staff and parents the following:

1.  What is therapy?  Make sure everyone is informed as to what is occupational, physical or speech therapy.  Describe what your role is as a related service provider and what functional tasks you can offer assistance with.

2.  Why does this student receive therapy?  It is important to be clear as to why the student receives the related service that you provide.  Review goals with all team members.

3.  Who are you?  Introduce yourself and include your title.  Be specific and explain the difference between a registered occupational or physical therapist and an assistant.   

Title: School and Home Communication Forms for Therapists 

By: Your Therapy Source 

Summary: Download of 21 forms to increase communication between therapists, school staff, students and parents. 

Get more information.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Make a Reward Box

Would you like to reward students and children for their positive behavior or participation during therapy sessions or any activity?  Make this reward box. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Stopping Walking

Do you work with children who have difficulty stopping when they are walking?  Have you ever compared motor responses between planned and unplanned stopping when walking?  Recent research was published in Gait and Posture using kinematic and kinetic data to compare walking, planned and unplanned stopping with 15 healthy children ages 11-17 years old.

During unplanned stopping the following results were recorded:
  • hip/knee extension or hip/knee flexion strategy was used     
  • the peak magnitudes of peak hip extension and peak knee flexion were significantly greater
  • the peak plantar flexion moment was significantly smaller    
The researchers concluded that the ability to create sufficient joint moments in a short period of time is essential to be able to stop quickly and safely suggesting that possible treatments should focus on facilitating appropriate strength, power, and range of motion.

Reference:   Sarah Trager Ridge, John Henley, Kurt Manal, Freeman Miller, et al. Kinematic and kinetic analysis of planned and unplanned gait termination in children. Article in press for Gait and Posture. DOI: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2012.06.030

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Movement Analysis App - Cricket Coach

Dual Screen Mode

Here is another great movement analysis app that provides various video editing tools - Cricket Coach Plus.  I tested this app which I purchased for $2.99 quite some time ago and they have since released other sports including swimming, baseball and tennis.  This app packs a lot of punch for $2.99.

Transparency Mode

Basically, you can compare videos at the same time.  You can do this by watching both videos at the same time or by overlaying the videos on top of each other.  You can slow down the videos by 50% or 75% to break down the skill even further.    

Pencil Markings

In addition, you can measure angles and write directly on the screen.  The angle measurements are not exact but you can certainly get a general idea.

I will not provide a tutorial for this app here - too long and detailed.  You really need to test and play around with the app yourself to see what would suit your needs.  The original intent of the app is for movement analysis in different sports so the app is preloaded with various cricket skills.  The purpose of the preloaded videos is to compare your form to the correct form.  I have not seen any of the other sport apps besides cricket.  I would be interested to test out others to help children with learning various coordination skills for physical education class such as throwing a ball, catching or shooting a basketball.  A therapist who works with an aquatic program may find the video modeling helpful for the various swim strokes to be able to show the student different adjustments that are necessary.

Here are a few ideas for this app:
1.  Document progress.  This is an easy way to show parents and teachers progress over time.  A picture says a thousand words, but a video shows even more.  

2.  Slow down the video for instruction.  Video tape a student doing a task ie catching a ball.  Now show the video to the student in slow motion pointing out where the student needs to initiate catching the ball.

3.  Compare videos to proper form.  Video tape a peer or adult performing the skill ie kicking a ball.  Video the student performing the skill.  Compare the videos watching them at the same time indicating to the student where they can improve parts of the skill.

4.   Document speed.  There is a speedometer on the app.  If you put in the distance the child is walking and then hit start and stop you will get an average speed.  The distance has to be at least 6 feet.

Would love to hear what others do with this app.  I think this makes a great therapy tool at a super cheap price!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New School Year, New Goals, New Opportunities

As many of you return to work or have started already, here are some tips for the upcoming school year:

1.  Support your students - Whether the student's goal is a lofty one or a easy goal support the student 100% to achieve the goal.  Maybe it is something the student really wants to achieve.  Or perhaps a teacher feels it will benefit the student.  Whatever it may be, if you do not believe that the student can achieve it he/she probably will not.  Make it your goal to help them achieve their goals. 

2.  Be patient - Students learn at different paces.  Make sure you give them time to respond.  Whether it be to complete a functional task like dressing or to take a step allow them to initiate all movements or steps possible before you provide verbal or physical cues. 

3.  Model Appropriately - If you want students to perform a certain task a certain way try to model that task for them.  If you can not model the skill see if you can get a peer or a video to demonstrate for the student.

4.  Remember the goals - It can be hard to stay focused on a few goals when a student exhibits many needs.  But, by focusing on certain skills you can provide more assistance in areas that the student, teacher and parents have indicated to be important.  Therapists frequently catch glimpses of a student's daily routine so we need to rely on others to help to set the proper goals.

5.  Ask for help -  To repeat the sentiments in number 4, therapists catch a glimpse of a students day.  Ask questions to the student, the teachers and the parents.  The more informed you are regarding a student the more you can offer your expertise. 

Care to add any more tips to the list?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Poll Results on Length of Services

The poll results have been posted regarding the previous survey question that ran from April until now.

Question: When considering your entire caseload, regardless of IEP classification, approximately how long do students receive school based OT or PT services?

Question: Based on your experience, what IEP classification tends to receive therapy services for the longest?

You can view all the results at

These results prompted the next therapy poll: How often are school based therapy services discontinued at a different time than annual review time?  You can answer at

Just something to ponder, do you think some students receive school based therapy services for too long? 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Walmart Grant for Health and Wellness

Walmart is now offering grants up to $25,000 that support health and wellness.  The grant application period is ending August 10, 2012 though so if interested act quickly.  They are willing to support tax exempt programs that "improve access to health care, reduces health care disparities and promotes nutrition". For more information go to Walmart State Giving Program.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How Cool is This?

I wanted to share this fun, easy animation tool that some students may enjoy - PowToon.  It is really fun and pretty simple to create animated presentations.  Perhaps a tool to add to your therapy bag to entertain the school staff for professional development.  Or suggest to an older student instead of a traditional pen and paper report.  It is free to export 20 videos (up to 60 seconds long) to YouTube and then you can embed or share them.  Here is the one I made which truly took me only 10 minutes to create.

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