Each Week OT expert, Sarit Tresser will be giving an in-depth insightful analysis into the various ways Health Games aid children with disabilities. Stay connected to receive first-hand input from a professional in the field of child development
In my last post I focused on the emotional aspect of therapy for children with DCD when using a virtual environment. This time I will emphasize the motor aspect.
Children with DCD represent poor acquisition of motor skills like: middle-line crossing, hand-eye coordination, balance, motor planning, bilateral coordination, timing and sequences. These difficulties often come along with “clumsiness” and poor body awareness.
Through the use of the VE (virtual environment) we are able to practice the skills that enhance motor abilities.
The Growing with Timocco gaming environment provides the therapist with the practice tools which allow the child to influence the patterns of movement, and encourage the adoption of adaptive movements.
For example, if the child has difficulties with middle-line crossing the therapist can adjust the game settings into middle-line crossing mode. This means the crossing of the right hand over to the left side of his body and vice versa, a fact that can influence the ability to draw or write and switch between hands during an activity. In this mode the therapist is able to choose whether the child will cross the middle line of the body from left to right /right to left on both sides.
In the “Falling Fruit” game from Growing with Timocco, the location of the fruit on the screen will be changed according to the therapist’s definitions. If chosen to work on the right to left crossing, the fruit will appear on the right hand side of the screen and the child will have to drag them all the way towards the correct basket that is located on the left hand side of the screen.
Another example for enhancing motor skills is improving bilateral coordination. Many children move their hands in an uneven manner and without synchronization of both hands, whether we talk of both hands doing the same work, opposite work or using each hand for a different purpose, the difficulty in this area will make it hard for the child to handle drawing, to open bottles etc.
The virtual gaming environment of Timocco suggests several ways to work on bi -lateral coordination skills, like popping soap bubbles using both hands together or working differently with each hand when catching fruit, and placing them in different locations on the screen.
If the therapeutic goal is to improve balance and posture, it is possible to adjust the range of motion in the software, so the child will have to reach far for the objects and leave his base of support. It is recommended to put the child on an unstable surface to challenge his balance even more and increase body awareness.
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