Enabling activities boost your motor functionality

Cerebral palsy sufferers benefit from therapeutic stimulation and exercise

AQUA THERAPY: Swimming is an essential form of therapy at Canaan Care Centre. Picture: LEIGH TEBBUTT

Though cerebral palsy does hold restrictions, there are still sufferers who have sufficient functionality that enables them to participate in activities that able-bodied people would, even though they have a lower capability level.

Ideal activities for those with cerebral palsy would be ones that encourage them to move around while using their affected movement and body parts repeatedly and consistently so as to stimulate and exercise their motor functionality.

In researching the best type of activities for CP children, it struck me how many of the activities suggested formed a natural part of my childhood and yet seem to have been cast aside by many parents to the detriment of the current generation.

The activities mentioned are ones that cerebral palsy sufferers can potentially participate in on their own, with care-givers or with able-bodied persons and though mainly focussing on children, adults can benefit from some of them as well. Visit www.flintrehab.com for more ideas.

Growing up as a child, I loved the sense of freedom I gained from being on the playground swing.  I would swing as high as I could (or as high as my courage permitted) so that I could try touch the sky. Little did I think of the benefits of this fun activity.

A swing requires one to pump the legs to build momentum and power thereby encouraging more leg movement. A certain amount of grip and balance is also needed. All of this is vital therapy for CP children.

Hula hooping – now there is something I could never master.

Hula hooping activates a number of areas of the brain as it requires rhythm, concentration and co-ordination. The process of swinging one of these hoops around an arm can also help children whose arms are affected by cerebral palsy.

Do you remember doing the Hokey Pokey or Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes? Well, while we were dancing around   with the corresponding and repetitive hand actions we were improving our motor functions and learning to time, anticipate and co-ordinate our movements.

Even simple hand-clapping games have advantages as they promote arm and hand functionality. They also have easy-to-learn and catchy songs that accompany them such as my personal favourite, “A sailor went to sea.”

Another game we played was “Island.”

Little did we know that when we were stepping from one ‘island’ to another to avoid the ‘sharks’ in the ‘water’, we were actually improving our balance and learning to control where we stepped.

Believe it or not, board games have benefits too. Sadly they are often referred to as “bored” games.

Besides encouraging children to count, strategize and take risks, board games assist with the development of cognitive skills and improve fine motor skills.

More adventurous therapeutic past-times include sports such as swimming.

Swimming provides cerebral palsy sufferers with the opportunity to move around more freely than they would normally be able to simultaneously strengthening their muscles.

Adaptive sports, of which swimming is one, promotes an active lifestyle while encouraging teamwork, sportsmanship and the establishment of goals.

These sports sometimes require special equipment and clothing to assist disabled persons to participate to the best of their abilities in their sport of choice.

An extensive list of these sports and the relevant equipment can be found at http://www.disabilityinfosa.co.za which also provides information about the Paralympics.

The Paralympics opens up an even wider world to those with the condition as they have a number of categories under which cerebral palsy sufferers can enter in a vast array of sporting codes.

So as much as cerebral palsy can be disabling or restrictive, there are still many opportunities to enable the majority of sufferers to improve their quality of life and lead full lives thanks to their strong mind-sets and ability to learn how to adjust to their circumstances or how to adjust the activities to fit in with their functional capabilities.

In our efforts to create awareness about Cerebral Palsy and raise funds for Logan Bartle’s medical expenses, the Fit For Logan Team are aiming to lose a set amount of weight by October 7.

To sponsor the participants click here https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe9EdVhIMF-Rj7pXSELYPvfbldsFYk1xaHKsTAviBTupI-IAg/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1&flr=0

Alternatively, contact them directly as below:

The GO! & Express is the sole print media sponsor of the Fit for Logan Challenge.


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