I work at a kindergarten for children with CP. Some are able to stand and are mobile without assistance, but have significant difficulties with motor control, coordination, stability and balance. Is Timocco suitable for their treatment?
The difficulties you describe impact the ability of the children to acquire movement patterns, to carry out routine daily activities and their level of social participation. Therefore the use of a virtual reality environment like Timocco can be very helpful for those children, both for their motor skills and for social and emotional behaviour.
Young children (aged 3-5) need an environment without visual distractions that can provide them with immediate and obvious stimuli and feedback. The type of activity suitable for them is cause and effect games, where random movement by the child leads to an on-screen response. Timocco offers a number of unique games for this, such as ‘Photo Album’ and ‘Bubble Bath.’ Of course, goals and techniques change from child to child according to their level of functioning, capabilities and the priorities of the child and parents.
For this age group, it’s recommended to seat the child on a cylindrical bolster while they’re playing in a virtual environment. The therapist/parent can sit behind them and help them to understand and acquire the skills necessary for the game. At a later stage, depending on the aim of the therapy and the capability of the child, they can progress to playing the game while standing.
These games strengthen and develop a number of skills, including hand-eye coordination, motor control, understanding of cause and effect, hand movement awareness, familiarity with new movement patterns (motor learning) and primary attention skills, as well as improving strength and accuracy.
Young children have a tendency to move closer to the screen and try to touch it in order to play the game. That’s a natural, normal tendency that comes from a familiar movement patterns (mainly from familiarity with touch screens). The new and different movement patterns require an individualized process of learning, each child at his or her own pace, as they learn to adapt their hand movements to the requirements of the game. For this reason, sitting on a bolster, or chair, behind the child allows the therapist/parent to help the child remain at a correct distance from the screen to assist the child in adopting a suitable pattern of movement for the activity. In that way, the adult can support and stabilize the child’s body and help him or her to internalize the most efficient movement patterns.
The Range of Movement required throughout the game can be adjusted to suit the child’s abilities and create an optimal level of challenge so the game won’t be frustrating, but still be sufficiently challenging in order to encourage the continued improvement of the child’s Range of Movement.
Hope this helps,
Sarit Tresser, OT