#3 The Wheelbarrow – unconventional but fun!
Posted January 17, 2012on:
The weather in Auckland has been dismal to say the least over December and January. But on the semi-sun-filled days, my partner and I have been working in the garden, shifting soil and making flower beds. We unfortunately don’t have a wheelbarrow to move the soil, which gave the thought for this post.
During therapy a lot of time is often spent working on a child’s postural adjustments – whether it be protecting themselves from falling by extending their arms, preparing their body position in anticipation for a movement (like stepping sideways to catch a call) or adjusting their trunk/neck/head side-to-side. We do this on the swiss ball quite often, as well as various swings and during action songs.
An unconventional way to practice these skills at home is to use a wheelbarrow. Have your child sit inside the wheelbarrow, and start by holding on either side. Take them for a ‘wheelbarrow ride’ along the garden or on the driveway.
Grade the activity to suit their ability:
- walk slowly in a straight line, the child focusing on not falling over and holding on
- walk a little faster so the bumping up and down is more intense – they will need to hold on tighter
- walk in a curvy line, and prepare them for the direction changes – “we’re going left, hold on, don’t let your body fall over, think which way your body needs to lean so you don’t fall out!”
- Walk in a straight line but tip the wheelbarrow slighly to the side. Prepare them for the movements and prompt them to adjust. If they cope with this, tell them you will be moving it side to side but won’t be telling them clues which way. Finally move the wheelbarrow without telling them.
- when the child is displaying improved adjustments within their core (not only relying on their hands to stop them falling over), encourage them to not hold on and onlly use their bodies to stop falling over. You will of course need to be very conscious of their ability and how fast/slow they will be able to adjust to the movements of the wheelbarrow. Prompt them to stick out their hands quickly if they feel unsafe.
- Go for treasure hunts and obstacle courses, and have the child tell you which direction to go (also works on direction!)
So there we have it – use your home wheelbarrow to practice
- protective extensioin (reaching out to prevent falls)
- reactive postural adjustments (moving body in reaction to moving off centre in the wheelbarrow)
- anticipatory postural adjustments (moving body in antipication, most likley when they are directing you and are preparing for turns)
- waking up the vestibular system with little bumps in the pathway
- activating core muscles
Things to consider:
- if your child id tactile defensive, line the wheelbarrow with an accepted fabric so they do not get dirty, or let them wear gloves
- place cushions in the wheelbarrow
- wear a bike helmet and elbow/knee pads
- know your own strength!