Music as a Therapy Tool

image001You may be wondering how something as simple as listening to specifically designed music can impact a wide range of activities, such as energy levels, mood, autonomic functioning, anxiety, learning, memory and communication – just to name a few.

Music that is individually implemented as a sound-based tool can be used within a Sensory Integrative Framework and in sensory diets when provided by a trained professional, most often an occupational therapist.  Music can be used throughout a variety of environments to enhance focus, attention, sensory modulation, self-regulation, spatial awareness, bilateral motor coordination, along with social skills and ability to complete daily routines.

There is research from many sources that demonstrates the impact of carefully selected music on auditory processing by providing specific sensory stimulation to impact the brain and its ability to affect behavioral and psychological states.  Examples of sound-based tools include: Therapeutic Listening, QuickShifts, and The Listening Program to name a few.

Sound-based tools are specifically designed for each child and must be implemented by a trained therapist while a child is participating in therapy as it needs to be continually monitored.

Lisa Stark-Jones, OTR, C/NDT

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Creating Bedtime Routines

If you want to: Consider these activity tips:
Establish a specific bedtime and a bedtime routine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Select a bedtime that you feel is appropriate for your child based on his or her age and schedule, and be consistent, even on weekends and during vacations. If you have multiple children, you may want to identify different bedtimes to ensure you can help each one.

Establish a predictable, regular sequence of events to prepare for sleep and relaxation. Begin this bedtime routine about a half hour before.

If your child is able to talk, share reminders about when bedtime is coming, stating something like, “First we eat dinner, then we play, followed by taking a bath and putting on our pajamas. Then we read a story and get into bed to go to sleep.”

To reinforce the bedtime routine, encourage your child to be part of the process. Ask what step comes next; offer choices of books, songs, etc.; and suggest he or she put a favorite doll or stuffed animal to bed. Use a transitional item, such as a blanket or a soft toy.

Help your child relax to get ready for sleep.

 

 

 

Avoid exercise or TV immediately before bedtime because these can make children more alert.

As part of the bedtime routine, have your child pick up and put away toys. Reducing clutter can help the child focus on bedtime.

Turn off the TV and play soothing music during the bedtime routine, to help your child calm down and signal that bedtime is arriving.

Help your child feel comfortable for bedtime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If a child expresses fear of the dark, make checking the closet or under the bed part of the bedtime routine. A nightlight can also help reduce these fears.

Dim the lights while getting ready for bed to help the child prepare for the dark and to reinforce that nighttime is for sleeping.

Think about sensory experiences: are pajamas or blankets itchy? Do the fabrics breathe? Is the room too warm? Too cool? Are the window coverings letting in too much light? Are there smells wafting in from the kitchen?

Support the child by saying things like, “I believe in you,” or “I know you can do it” in response to anxieties or fears that interfere with sleep. Overcoming a fear in a safe, supported environment can help the child gain confidence.

Ensure that your child is safe while sleeping alone.

 

 

 

 

 

For young children, help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by not putting items like blankets or stuffed animals in the crib. Minimizing stuffed animals in the bed of any child teaches that the bed is for sleeping, not for playtime.

If a child makes nighttime trips to the bathroom, place nightlights in the bedroom and bathroom.

Make sure there are no cords dangling from the blinds or other items that could be a choking hazard. If a child is at risk for falling or rolling out of bed, consider placing a large pillow on the floor to prevent the child from getting hurt. Use a baby monitor or intercom system to listen for your child’s needs.

Help your child become more independent in sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beginning at about 2 months of age, place a child in bed prior to being asleep so he or she can learn to fall asleep independently. White noise can provide comfort and help to drown out other noises. Sound machines, fans, or even aquariums can be used for white noise.

Make sure your child isn’t drinking soft drinks that contain caffeine during the day.

Older children should go to bed at the established time even if they don’t feel tired, so they don’t fall asleep in another room and have to relocate to bed. Encourage them to read in bed or read to them for a set amount of time to help them relax.

When old enough, the child can learn to make his or her bed.

Lisa Stark-Jones, OTR, C/NDT

 

August Activity Checklist

Make the most of your summer with fun actvities from Country Kids pediatric occupational therapist Molly Markland:

  • Walk on your tip toes all the way around the house.image005
  • Draw a line with chalk and try to walk on it like a balance beam.
  • Put on a button down shirt, and practice buttoning and unbuttoning the shirt.
  • Try and do 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups and 10 jumping jacks.
  • Draw a picture of where you live.
  • Play hide and seek with a grown up.
  • Play jump rope.
  • Play catch with a big wet sponge.
  • Practice writing your name; make it more fun by doing it with chalk on the driveway.

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July Activity Checklist

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You can have a summer of fun trying these activities from Country Kids pediatric occupational therapist Molly Markland:

  • Run through a sprinkler or a hose.
  • Play catch with a water balloon.
  • Draw a picture of a rainbow with sidewalk chalk.
  • Wash a car or a bike with a bucket of soapy water.
  • Try to gallop or skip around the yard.
  • Blow up the balloon and see if you can keep it in the air for 10 hits.
  • Blow bubbles and then try to pop them with your pointer finger.
  • Pretend to fly around the yard like a butterfly.
  • Cut a straw into small pieces and then string for a necklace.

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Deadline to Register for Sensory Handwriting Summer Camp is July 21

When: August 14, 15, 16, 2017 (Mon., Tues., & Wed.)

Time: 9:00 – 11:00 AMCountry Kids Logo final

Ages: 5 through 9

Minimum Participants: 4 Maximum Participants: 8

Fee: $100.00

Registration: Call (920) 339-0700 by July 21, 2017

Purpose of Group: This is a perfect camp to give your child a jump start for handwriting success with the return of school soon approaching. Children will improve handwriting through fun, engaging activities at this camp.

Goals of the Group:
● Build confidence for handwriting
● Improve pencil grasp
● Improve hand strength
● Improve hand dexterity
● Improve fine and gross motor skills

Leader of Group: This camp will be led by an OT trained in Handwriting Without Tears using a developmental multi-sensory and fun approach to writing.

 

June Activity Checklist

Have a great start to you image002summer with these fun activities from Country Kids pediatric occupational therapist Molly Markland:

  • Make a hopscotch with chalk on the driveway.
  • Roll like a log in the grass.
  • Make a necklace from dental floss and Cheerios.
  • Build a sand castle.
  • Go down a slide three times in a row.
  • Walk backwards across the yard.
  • Go to the library.
  • Blow bubbles and try and pop them with your finger.
  • Cut out pictures from a magazine.
  • Draw a picture of your favorite animal.

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How does Hippotherapy Influence Walking?

Walking, or gait, is a complex pattern of movement that gets us from one place to another. Our bodies are passengers on our lower limbs which consist of multiple joints and muscles. Did you know that selective control and modulation of 57 muscles in the lower limbs is required for controlled gait?

In addition to controlled muscle action, in order for us to walk in an efficient and coordinated manner, several additional prerequisites are required. We need range of motion in the soft tissue to allow the limb to move forward; we need alignment of the body segments to keep our center of mass over our base of support. We need strength in each muscle as it is required to activate and hold. We need mobility in the joints of the ankle and foot which provide a rocker to move the body forward and also provide shock absorption as we step.

All of these things happen within our musculo-skeletal system as we walk, and yet we are not conscious of them. The movements are automatic and efficient, unless we have a disruption in any of those prerequisite factors. A disruption such as those we often see in people with cerebral palsy, or low muscle tone, or hemiplegia, to name a few.

If there is insufficient range of motion to gain full hip or knee extension, one cannot completely straighten the knee to make heel contact during an initial step. Immobility in the heel cord limits the ankle’s ability to move within full range and propel the lower leg over the foot. Weakness in the musculature might mean one cannot sustain weight on one limb long enough to progress the opposite limb forward.

Additional factors that affect gait include functional sensory systems, balance responses, and motor learning that enable us to activate our muscles in response to and in anticipation of environmental stimuli.

Physical therapists have an enormous amount of expertise in the normal development of gait and are able to analyze the components of movement to determine treatment plans.

How can Hippotherapy help?
Hippotherapy is an adjunct form of therapy that can support the gait-oriented goals of the physical therapist. The movement of the horse impacts the movement of the rider in a manner that is similar to the gait cycle. EMG studies have shown that riding activates the muscles in a sequence similar to muscular activation during walking. However, the impact of hippotherapy goes beyond this.

Hippotherapy proAliyah victory low res for emailvides a multi-system impact on the rider. The position on the horse relaxes tight muscles in the lower extremities, while the constant three-dimensional movement requires an instant and continuous response from the rider causing an increase in strength and control over time. The  horse is moving through space, which alerts the visual and vestibular systems which are closely tied to posture and movement. Additionally, the proprioceptive, tactile, and kinesthetic systems are activated, all of which help improve awareness of body position in space and assist in functional motor responses.

Isn’t it amazing that one horse can do all of that? Perhaps the primary influence of the horse is to create a fun and engaging experience for the rider. Fun and meaningful activities are known to have more longlasting influence on learning, including motor learning.

We see better posture, better standing, and better walking after hippotherapy.

In order to maximize it’s impact, hippotherapy is and should be a part of a comprehensive therapy program including physical and occupational therapy. At Exceptional Equestrians we are beginning to collect objective data on the impact of hippotherapy on gait using our gait analysis system.

Lisa Kafka, OTR, HPCS
Diane McInnis, PT