We’ve had quite a lot of response and questions related to last week’s post, which showed Ben (an alias), a 6 year old boy with Cerebral Palsy, forgetting all about his hemiplegic hand and freely using it to play Timocco during his therapy session. Here’s the video:
Back in February of this year, we posted some advice about the best way to get results with a child who has CP and I’d like to re-post it here again, I think it’ll answer most of the questions I’ve gotten.
In my experience starting with a representative, simple activity that provides the child with strong and positive feedback, preferably a game he/she can’t fail, produces the best results.
Personally, I like to start with the balloons game because it doesn’t allow the child to make a ‘mistake’. For the first round of play, allow the child to work with whichever hand he/she is most comfortable with (most likely the child will choose to work with the strong hand).
Next, encourage the child to play using only their weaker hand. To achieve this I like to play along with the child, where each of us holds one of the gaming balls and we coordinate our movements or take turns to play the game.
Often I find that children respond to this progressively challenging program because they, themselves are highly motivated to succeed in the game – instead of repeatedly having to ‘nag’ the child to use their weak hand, the child takes the initiative to invest a significant amount of effort to play and overcomes difficulties with a positive attitude.
Typically I place the camera in a high position (on top of the screen) to encourage the child to work with his or her hands raised above shoulder level so they can strengthen their shoulder girdle during the game.
Finally, find a game designed for bi-lateral coordination such as the ‘bubble bath’ game which will encourage the child to play using both hands together without triggering feelings of frustration. In the video you can see the child supporting his weaker hand with the stronger hand (and in the process developing a ‘can do’ attitude towards the game).
Hope this helps!