Occupational therapists have long recognized the benefits of incorporating sensory swings into therapy sessions. Platform swings, in particular, offer an unstable surface that challenges a child's body positioning, promoting improved motor planning, balance, coordination, and righting reactions.
By engaging with a platform swing, children with sensory processing disorders can experience sensory integration and processing, leading to enhanced sensory regulation. These swings are specifically designed to assist children in developing essential skills for daily life occupations, such as self-care and handwriting.
During this episode, we dive into the reasons why occupational therapists choose to incorporate platform swings into their therapy sessions. We discuss 5 activities and techniques used to maximize the therapeutic benefits of these swings.
Whether you're a parent, caregiver, or healthcare professional, this episode will provide valuable insights into the power of platform swings!
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A platform swing is a spacious, level surface suspended by ropes or chains designed to accommodate one or more individuals and enable swinging movements in various directions. These swings are widely utilized in therapy settings, playgrounds, and private residences.
Platform swings provide an engaging way to promote physical activity, improve balance and coordination, and facilitate sensory integration. Whether you're a parent seeking enjoyable and therapeutic play ideas for your child or a therapist aiming to diversify your sessions, here are five functional activities that can be quickly done with a platform swing.
Swinging not only improves postural control and muscle tone, but it also enhances a child's ability to maintain an upright position when faced with balance challenges caused by movement. Additionally, it offers significant benefits to the proprioceptive system, enhancing spatial awareness and understanding of the body's position in space.
Proprioception is crucial in regulating and accurately coordinating movements, making it an essential aspect of sensory processing. Regarding platform swings, the gentle swinging motion offers a soothing and organizing deep pressure input to joints and muscles, benefiting the nervous system.
Furthermore, it stimulates the vestibular system, vital for maintaining balance and coordination. The integration of proprioceptive and vestibular input can have a regulating and soothing impact on the nervous system, resulting in heightened attention and concentration.
Position the child on their stomach on a swing, with beanbags strategically placed around a crash pad below. Offer the child the option to either propel themselves or receive a gentle push, empowering them to aim and throw the object towards the target while grabbing each beanbag.
To enhance the challenge, vary the target while the person is swinging. For older children, incorporate physical exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, and triceps dips to make it more engaging.
Position the child in the center of the swing, ensuring their hands rest comfortably in their lap. Rotate the swing evenly in both directions, maintaining a steady and rhythmic pace, all while keeping count of the number of spins to keep the child informed.
To increase the level of challenge, incorporate cognitive tasks like spelling words or solving math problems while spinning. This activity encourages the child to use their vision, balance, and coordination skills while engaging in a fun and dynamic task.
Position the child on their stomach on the swing with arms extended out in front of them, grasping onto ropes or chains. Begin a gentle and consistent swinging motion while providing verbal cues to lift their head, arms, and legs simultaneously.
To increase the difficulty, incorporate coordination tasks such as clapping hands or kicking feet while maintaining a steady swinging rhythm. This activity targets core strength, postural control, and overall muscle coordination.
Use clothespins to clip lightweight items, such as scarves, ribbons, or streamers, onto the swing ropes. Encourage the child to reach for and grab the items while swinging in a controlled manner.
To make this activity more challenging, have the child use only one hand at a time or incorporate counting or color recognition tasks while grabbing the items. This exercise promotes hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and visual tracking abilities.
Pretend play is a crucial part of child development, allowing them to express emotions, make sense of the world, and enhance their imagination. Platform swings provide an excellent opportunity for engaging in imaginative play scenarios such as riding on a magic carpet, flying through space, or swinging through the jungle.
Encourage the child to use their creativity and verbal skills by pretending to be a character or telling a story while swinging. This activity not only promotes physical movement but also helps with social skills, language development, and emotional regulation.
Position the child on the swing in a quadruped stance, placing their hands on the platform and their feet on the ropes or chains. Encourage activities such as reading or pointing to a visual chart to enhance their core strength, balance, and motor planning abilities.
To make it more challenging, have the child perform a squat while holding onto the swing. This activity can also be used as a calming technique by incorporating deep breathing exercises and slowing down the movements.
When children position themselves on their hands and knees, crossing the midline becomes an enjoyable yet stimulating task. It presents a remarkable opportunity to strengthen the STNR reflex and refine ocular motor skills.
Platform swings are a fantastic resource for promoting physical activity, improving sensory processing skills, and providing opportunities for imaginative play. By incorporating these five functional activities into your child's routine or therapy sessions, you can enhance their motor skills while having fun.!
BORING, BUT NECESSARY LEGAL DISCLAIMERS
While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.
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