You may notice that Noah is sitting, rolling, stretching, and grabbing rubber exercise balls in the majority of his therapy sessions. Today he got to play on a giant, textured rubber peanut exercise ball. They come in a lot of sizes and a few different shapes. I am fairly certain we have tried them all. So,what’s the goal of using these exercise balls?
The ball is probably most helpful for balance. By working on balance Noah is having to engage various muscles to sit on the ball. When he is on the floor, he can use fewer muscles and rely on stronger ones. This lets others like his obliques hide, which does not help those muscles out. Once on the ball, Noah has to rotate muscles in response to shifts in order to maintain his sitting position. This helps with his postural response so that when he is on the floor he sits like a champ!
Another good reason to use the ball is it helps Noah learn how to react. If he is slipping one direction, he has to correct himself. Noah does not have much of a protective response currently, which is common with hypotonia. The ball helps him learn that. A protective response is putting your hand out to catch yourself, or using the opposite muscles to maintain a position if you are falling. The therapists can cause those actions, which should provoke a protective response, easily and safely on the ball.
He also uses the ball to do sit ups. You have seen how Noah’s abs are stronger than his mom’s. I have noticed that it is much easier for the therapists to target certain muscles when he is on the ball rather than on the floor. Those obliques are not ignored when they do sit ups with Noah on the ball.
One last good reason to use the ball is that it is a good tool to prop your hands on while sitting. It allows Noah to roll back and forth and sit up straight. He loves the textures of the ball so it keeps him entertained. It also provides a higher surface for him to prop his hands on so that he sits up straighter and doesn’t do the dreaded bad habits.
You can buy these rubber balls pretty cheap at your local Target, or online at Amazon. We have two. A large yoga balance ball, and a smaller rubber one. We have found them to be fun (and cheap) developmental tools to have around the house.
Have you guys been using exercise balls in your therapy? What sorts of developmental toys do you, or your child’s therapist use?