Having a strong core is important for us throughout our whole lives. It first starts when we are infants, learning to sit and crawl. As we grow, our core strength is important to stabilize the trunk of our body and helps us with our posture. A weak core can cause slumping of the shoulders and slouching of the body. It can also have negative influences on our balance and motor skills. Occupational therapists work with children to strengthen their core using many exercises and toys. Below, we describe some toys in no particular order that occupational therapists will use during their sessions to strengthen a child’s core.
An occupational therapist will use an exercise ball to target goals in many ways. One way is strengthening the core. The therapist will sit the patient on the exercise ball and hold on to them while they balance on the ball. As the child gets stronger, the therapist will slowly decrease the amount of support for the child until they are independently sitting on the ball.
A wobble deck can be used to strengthen the core. This type of balance board is a game where the child stands and and has to follow the lights on the board by leaning toward that side. This helps improve their balance and strengthens the core area. Not only does it target the child’s balance and core, it improves their reflexes and coordination.
Twister is a game that strengthens the core by the moves the child makes. As the child moves into different positions, they have to stay in the position until the therapist picks a different color or the child falls. Holding positions such as a bridge, standing on one foot, or having one foot up and one arm up will target the core and strengthen it. This is a great toy to use for older children because the child doesn’t even know they are working on a goal!
A scooter board is another great toy to strengthen the core muscles. The child sits on top of the scooter and scoots around using their legs. Sitting and scooting on the scooter requires balance and coordination. Balancing on the scooter strengthens the child’s core. The child will soon start to increase strength, coordination, and motor skills.
These are only some toys that occupational therapists use during therapy sessions to help strengthen children’s core muscles. You can do other activities with your child at home such as crawling through tunnels, swinging on a swing (without being pushed), climbing up ladders on a playground, walking on a balance beam, and running around outside. These all help with balance, coordination, strength, and motor skills.
Do you have questions about pediatric occupational therapy?
Contact Chicago Occupational Therapy or call (773) 980-0300 to learn more about our services for children, including applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.