Day Two kicked off with a session on infant and child development and the role physical therapists play in improving a parent’s ability to interact with their child. Six ideas to keep in mind when engaging in play with your child range from simple things like ensuring toys are within reach, turn taking, and limiting restrictions on the child’s movements, to more challenging pointers like sharing mutual attention and pausing to let the child explore and play on their own, all while remaining engaged in play with them. The next time you bring your child for an appointment, ask if you can observe a part of their next session and be sure to ask for tips on how to get the most out of the time you share playing with your kids.
The second course on the menu reviewed the evidence on the importance of physical therapy treatment for children with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. Children with an ASD diagnosis present with a slower rate of development and low tone (or limited resting muscle strength), and often present with increased muscle tightness to compensate. This results in significant decreases in their range of motion. Activities like aquatics, yoga, and horseback riding have all proved helpful in combination with a stretching and strengthening program.
Finally, I attended a study review on the impact that an aerobic activity like cycling can have on stroke recovery and motor learning following a neurological insult. It was demonstrated that when individuals recovering from a stroke participated in a cycling program for 45 minutes three times a week, they showed improvement in practiced functional skills. 5-60 minutes after vigorous aerobic exercise, the brain even showed an improved ability to relearn tasks that had been made more difficult following a stroke.
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