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Holiday Toys with a Physical Therapy Twist

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

Are you looking for some special presents for a child in your life this holiday season? I have gathered some of my favorite toys that I use during sessions to help motivate kids to be active. With most of these gift ideas, it is not the toy itself that promotes activity but the ways you can play with it. The best part of each new game or toy we get at the BAC is finding new and creative ways to make each treatment session novel and fun.

Balloons and Bubbles!

Kids Balloon Power Car Kidzlane Bubble Machine

Balloons and bubbles are just plain fun. Incorporating them into PT activities can be tricky but if you set the environment upright, it can help motivate your child to work through an obstacle course or hold a position on a wobbly surface. With the balloons, you can have your child go pick out which color balloon they want first on the other side of a room and then navigate back to the pump machine. You can add in any animal walks, balance challenges, or other parts of your PT home exercises before they are ready to help the rocketship blast off. Bubbles on the other hand help a child stay engaged in a more static position. Standing on a compliant surface like a pillow or couch cushion are good ways to work on balance. It also encourages reaching outside of their base of support to pop the bubbles adding to the benefit of the activity.

White Board

For younger kids, whiteboards are a fun medium to color and erase. Drawing pictures of the exercises on the list and then erasing them once completed can be a fun way to work through a home exercise program. For older kids, it can be a quick and easy place to track their record number of repetitions or speed to complete an exercise course. Most times kids benefit from writing out their schedule and making it clear that a video break is included as part of the plan after completing their jumping jacks. Another fun game to do while on a treadmill or holding a position like a wall sit or tall plank can be the match game. The child writes down an answer to a question like “What’s your favorite dessert?” and if you guess it they have to do 5 extra seconds holding the position. If you do not guess it right, you must do the exercise with them.

Animal Farm

Little People Caring for Animals

Any toy that requires pretend to play with pieces is a treasure trove for PT activity. It is a good way to encourage holding a body position with a focus on postural control, use with an obstacle course, or my favorite a scavenger hunt. Having the child hold onto the farmer who looks around the room for the next animal is a good break from any exercise with a lot of demands or repetitions. Sometimes this will involve animals walk around the room to find the pieces or it can be as simple as completing an exercise before they can go to find the next friend.

Strongtek balance board, bosu ball, spots, and cones

While it may be a stretch to call these toys, these are some of the most used items during treatment sessions and can be helpful to carry over exercises at home. While the bosu and wobble board help with balance and postural control, the cones and the dots help direct a child and make it clear where they should be moving to or standing on. These items can help make up the exercise challenges that you incorporate into the games above. Be sure to ask your therapist if there are any specific items that would be useful to have at home.

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