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Home / Occupational Therapy
When treating hypotonia, early therapeutic intervention is the key to success. Hypotonia indicates decreased muscle tension or stiffness.
This may or may not be associated with muscle weakness. Hypotonia impacts the signal muscles receive to contract effectively. This can impact a child’s ability to acquire new motor skills or complete motor activities with adequate endurance.
Occupational therapy can assist in areas which promote the development of fine motor skills, sensory processing/modulation, cognitive skills and activities of daily living.
Developmental skills build upon each other, therefore early intervention can ensure that a child is reaching their developmental milestones within age expectancy. Hypotonia may impact an infant’s ability to participate in important developmental activities that require muscles to activate and sustain weight-bearing positions.
Occupational therapy can help early on to address the skills that involve the use of the muscles for weight-bearing, such as those associated with “tummy-time”. These positions are an important foundation for reaching future developmental milestones such as rolling, transitional movements for sitting, and crawling.
Hypotonia may also affect a child’s ability to gain adequate postural stability or control. Without a stable base of support, it is difficult to gain sufficient distal control needed for fine motor skill development. Occupational therapy helps to address a child’s postural stability and control for functional participation in activities of daily living such as feeding, dressing and self-care tasks. Occupational therapy also helps in the development of hand function and fine motor skills, such as handwriting.
During occupational therapy, a variety of therapeutic interventions are used to help a child learn new skills. Neurodevelopmental treatment is a common approach to encourage typical movement patterns through therapeutic handling techniques. Sensory Integration is often used as well to improve a child’s motor planning and body awareness. In conjunction with occupational therapy services, a comprehensive home program is helpful to provide parents and caregivers with activities to do at home. Home activities are an integral part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
Suggestions for Home Activities:
• Give your baby opportunities for movement with supervised “tummy-time” while your baby is awake. Place your baby on a safe surface, such as a child foam mat. Lay in front of your child and encourage him/her to lift their head to see you. Your face and voice are very motivating to your baby! You can also use child-safe mirrors, music or brightly colored toys to encourage your baby to remain propped on their forearms with their head lifted.
• Reaching activities are also a nice way to help your child develop the muscles in their arms. With your baby lying on their back on a flat, safe surface, gently swipe a soft toy/rattle inside your baby’s hand to encourage them to open their hand. As your baby’s arm moves, encourage them to reach towards the toy and grasp it. You can gradually hold the toy higher to help your baby extend their reach.
Toddlers love ball games! To help the development of balance, coordination and en-durance, you can play a variety of games with your child using a mid-sized, child-friendly ball or beach ball. Games such as lifting arms high to “volley” a beach-ball back and forth, or bouncing and catching a ball are fun and helpful!
• In school-age children, and as new motor skills are developing, your child may need frequent breaks or shorter amounts of time to be involved in motor activities. Their muscles may become tired more easily, so a break helps their muscles recover. Activities that involve handwriting are commonly where breaks may be needed.
• Extra-curricular activities are also an enjoyable way to assist in your child’s development. Swimming is an excellent activity to promote proximal strength, endurance and motor coordination. Dance and karate can also be good choices. Activities should focus on getting their muscles active through body movements, which will help promote functional use and endurance in everyday tasks.
Every child is individually unique, and your occupational therapist can provide a detailed home program specific to your child’s needs.
Contributed by Raine Coleman, Occupational Therapist
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This "website" www.hypotonia.org is designed to help families and users find and understand general information on certain ("hypotonia") subjects. and is designed to provide useful information in regard to hypotonia. The information guarantees neither the accuracy nor completeness , and is not intended to replace medical advice.