Thursday, December 6, 2012

Working on cognitive skills

My clients are familiar with the animal pictures I hang up on  the indoor arena walls. So I completely hid one picture behind the snowman decoration and asked them to guess which one was hiding. If they couldn't remember which picture was missing, I would show part of the picture. This works on the visual perceptual skill called "visual form constancy". This is the ability to recognize a shape even when it is rotated, partially hidden, bigger or smaller than usual or a different color. It is a skill occupational therapists often test for. 
After guessing what is behind the snow man I show them the full monkey picture.

I have a smaller version of each animal picture- I call the "baby" attached to the back of the larger "mommy" or "daddy" picture. In the video you will see me handing the picture with the mommy side showing so that the 2 year old has to remember to turn it over to see where to attach the smaller picture. This works on visual memory and object permanence-remembering something that is not visible.



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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Feed the Therapist

Wanting to do something related to thanksgiving during hippotherapy with my little clients, I had my husband take a photo of me with my mouth open. Then I placed 2 of the same photo on 2 sides of the cider jug. One has a large hole cut out of the mouth area and the other has a smaller hole that requires positioning the folded paper in a vertical position to fit through the opening. I attached the photos with clear contact paper.  
I printed pictures of yams, potatoes, cider, turkey and pumpkin pie. I forgot the cranberry sauce. The children loved folding or pushing the pictures through the opening to "feed the therapist". Either way, it was a great fine-motor activity.
I cut an opening near the bottom of the bottle to remove the pictures and the motor from an electric toothbrush. Some children wanted the bottle to shake, some did not.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ghost Pull Toy


I made a little ghost pull toy this morning before heading over to the hippotherapy farm. It was very easy to cut a ghost shape out of a detergent bottle. I punched holes for the eyes and nose and a larger hole for the mouth. Then I inserted a long red strip of fabric through the mouth and another hole in the back of the bottle and tied knots on the ends.

The children loved the ghost with the extra long red tongue and I used it in many different ways to motivate children in holding various positions and reaching out of their base of support including-

  • while kneeling
  • facing sideways
  • facing backwards with legs together in long let sitting
  • supine over the barrel (facing sideways) to perform sit ups
  • standing on top of the horse
  • prone over the horse's barrel with arm and neck extension

I also used the ghost to promote language (after each step completion, the client said "boo") and motor planning skills as I asked the children to wiggle their tongues in and out, up and down as I wiggled the ghost's and my own tongue.   

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Adding the extra step of touching the withers and making raspberries after each sit-up makes it fun to work on postural control during hippotherapy.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Buckling Rings before placing on pole

I have been using a ring stack activity with a tall pole and soft fabric rings made out of socks for years. Placing the rings develops bilateral coordination, postural control and balance when young children work in kneeling, standing positions and reach out of their base of support. I can add challenge (a lot of challenge) by asking children to buckle the rings before placing them on the ring stack. I cut this ring out of a large plastic bottle and  cut notches so that the ends can be buckled together.   

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fun Hippotherapy Toys to use facing sideways, backwards, long and cross leg sitting

My 2 year old client liked grasping the motor from the Wiggly Squiggly writer pen and a mask sold for eye aches that has blue gel inside to squeeze. Playing with the toys helped her to let go of the  handle and tolerate facing sideways and backwards. Sitting in long leg and cross leg positions was more challenging but she did great and also demonstrated on film how nicely she can readjust her body when sliding off the horse. I work on that all the time....

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Inspirational Athletes born with amputations

Amazing Athletes born with missing limbs

Learn more about the Inspirational Archer matt Stutzman........

and off to London for the paralympics...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Allergy Day on the Farm

I knew that my allergies would be bad today so I decided to make an activity that would help me and at the same time teach some skills. I ripped a large amount of tissues in half and put them into a bag clipped to one side of the horse. I tied a plastic bag on the other side to put the trash. the children semed to enjoy helping me out as I worked on the following skills:
  • Following directions- to take out 1,2, or 3 pieces of tissue
  • answering questions to " what am I wiping, what is this called (tissue) and what am I cleaning (hands). I also asked what comes out of the nose  (buggers).
  • sequencing- one 3 year old independentlh pulled the reins to stop, took out a tissue, wiped her face and put it in the trash bag. She had some drool on her face and decided to wipe it!
  • reaching out of base of support for tissues and cleaner while facing forwards, sideways and backwards.
  • manipulation skills to pull the wipes out while stabilizing the container.One girl helped tie the know on the trash bag and threw it into a barrel.
  • toleration of sensory input to hand wipes

I that hope that I feel better next week and don't need to do this activity again, but it was novel and fun and I realized that the one client who drools would benefit from eminders to wipe and become inde

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Activities on the trail

I decided to have fun today while working on tactile or touch discrimination. I put two toy animals in each of 6 bottles that I hung from branches. I work with one 3year old who loves to guess what is in containers so she was really excited when I  showed her the 2 animals and then asked her to feel inside and pull out the one I named with her eyes closed. She did this while in positions:
  • kneeling
  • standing on top of horse
  • on her belly over barrel of horse
  • long leg sitting while facing backwards (her legs were next to each other across the horse's back)
  • posting (standing with feet in stirrups)
  • reaching while facing sideways
I was very impressed because she usually resists holding the prone position and she held this position briefly again  while using another toy and almost dismounted by herself from this position.   In addition, this little girl independently found the bottles hanging from the branches and pulled the reins to stop near them.

The little girl in the photo is  a bit over 2 years old and I am working on having her follow simple directions and imitate movements such as clapping and as shown in the video making the turtle jump. She was able to place the animals in and out of the bottle.   Notice how she made the turtle jump after the magic words "make the turtle jump and then we will GO".

The next video shows her finishing up rolling the ball as I counted the squeaks. I realized as she did this that I should catch it on video. 

The last video shows a different 2 year old kneeling while reaching to pull the rings in the bottle. She loved this and did it about 15 times before I realized that I should make a video. I have a longer version but am sharing the one edited to not show her face. She can also do this while standing on top of the horse.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Q&A with Barbara A. Smith, MS, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist at Challenge Unlimited/Ironstone Therapies in Andover, Massachusetts

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pull DogToy for Reaching

I found this dog toy (that looks like a horse)in the supermarket and just loved it because you can pull each of the legs repeatedly. There is a squeaker at the end of the leg so you can work on  squeezing the fingers, but I focused today on pulling.
 It gives great proprioceptive feedback, strengthens arms and hands and motivates children to reach out of the base of support. I had children pulling while facing forwards, sideways and backwards,  kneeling and standing on top of the horse.
I managed to catch a little bit on video.......

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Strengthening Fingers Activity

This activity jumped out at me at the Dollar Store. It is a first aid band meant to get cold in the fridge and then strapped to the wrist to relieve pain. I immediately loved the feel when squeezing one end and watching the contents squish over to the other end. this is great for strengthening fingers, especially the index, middle fingers and thumb used to grasp a pencil. My very young hippotherapy clients found it fun and some loved it so much.
I was able to use it to reinforce (read- bribe) some of them to engage in tasks they normally don't do willingly- such as lie on the belly in prone extension.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February feels like April

I 'm sharing videos of my most enthusiastic client, a 3 year old (deleting her face) who loves to reach out of her base of support to reach for objects. I came across this Thomas the train electric tooth  brush and remembered how little kids love him. I attached a plastic piece from a dishwasher soap bottle that fit snugly over the toothbrush end. It didn't vibrate as much as I thought it would but I think some kids will like it. squeezing the pins strengthens fingers. The video shows the girl removing them, but later I helped her squeeze them to put back on.

I found the orange cone holder at Trader Joe's, asked for it and the nice cashier gave it to me.  Its used to hold flowers while shopping. I was very impressed with how my client was able to practically do sit ups while  reaching backwards to place the cone in the holder, great for core strength. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Beautiful video of how a horse's unconditional love helped this young
woman with autism.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I love how this video compares progress after 6 months