As I promised in the last post, here’s an explanation of how we help Verity run, from Laurie Smith, the physical therapist who traveled with me to visit Tommy in Pleven last January–
“One of the things you mentioned was Verity’s gross motor and her being speedy when she wants to be. Made me think of one of the techniques that I have been using with kids once they are solid walkers and beginning runners. I learned it at the national Down Syndrome conference a couple years ago and have found it to make a difference. The speaker, Patricia Winders, recommended running as one of the best ways to refine the walking pattern into a more mature pattern, and I am becoming a believer since I started recommending it. It’s a bit difficult to explain, but I will try.
Initially, you start with two helpers, one on each side of her. So imagine yourselves all standing beside each other in a line, Verity in the middle. Each helper uses their “outside” hand to hold Verity’s hand, and places their “inside” hand on Verity’s trunk on the side of her ribcage under her arm with your thumb pointing backwards (i.e. towards her back) and your fingers wrapping forward around her trunk towards her tummy. This means you have to turn a little bit towards her.
Then you run with her, holding her arms outstretched and forward about at her shoulder level, and use your “trunk support hand” to help her tilt her trunk forward to run.
You support her and help her go fast, as fast as she can still keep her feet under her, while you are doing a lot of the forward momentum. The children usually love it and I bet it kind of feels like flying. <smile>
You can usually see an immediate difference in the pattern of their feet and legs. Leg swing is more normal (i.e. mature/straight forward), stride length increases, better knee bending, and legs are closer together, toes are more forward pointing, knees bend appropriately as they move over the foot, shoulders are ahead of the pelvis (like when we run).
What you don’t get is a normal arm swing, but Patricia said and I have seen that this comes along once the lower half of the body is using a better pattern.
Most all of the children I have tried this with loved it. But if Verity doesn’t… don’t do it…don’t push it…because if she’s scared of it or resists it, you won’t see the changes because her body won’t relax enough to “flow” with it.
Patricia recommended it daily once or twice. She also felt that it is a good endurance builder…because our children often don’t self-initiate this type of endurance-building activity. Eventually, they are doing more of the work of running, carrying more of their own body weight while they run, and eventually you can do this with one helper. The key component of the helper is keeping the child’s trunk tilted forward so shoulders are ahead of pelvis and providing the forward momentum.”
We did it the wrong way until I saw this photograph and realized my mistake.
The next time, we tried again…
…and did better.
Verity laughs and laughs her way through this activity and cries when we stop!