When you think of physical therapy (PT) for children, you're likely to envision a room filled with balancing balls, exercise bikes, treadmills and other equipment. While the use of such equipment is a common practice in most physical rehabilitation rooms, a new trend in pediatric physical therapy has emerged. This concept involves the use of video games.
Interactive video games that involve body movement can help improve mobility and flexibility in children recovering from sports injuries, brain injuries and other conditions. Some medical professionals believe that, in conjunction with traditional forms of physical therapy, video gaming may help with muscle and ligament issues, and make the sessions seem like less of a chore.
Video Games as a Motivational Tool
If your child is recovering from an injury that requires regular physical therapy, you may find that it has become a challenge to keep him or her motivated. Many parents are met with resistance when taking their children to the physical rehabilitation center, especially when the exercises are boring and repetitive. If your child's physical therapy sessions have become uninspiring, it may be time to rethink the approach.
When fun activities and entertainment are incorporated into the routine, the child may enjoy the rehabilitation. This is why you might want to ask your child's therapist if video gaming can be a useful tool for your child's recovery. Try to determine if the facility has implemented the use of video game technology into their recovery program.
The Benefit of Sports Simulation Games
You may be familiar with popular gaming systems that incorporate balance boards, dance pads, infrared controls and other peripherals that require the movement of hands, wrists, arms and legs. These interactive gaming tools are commonly used in sports games, where players simulate the motion of hitting or kicking a ball, running in place or balancing on a board. Games may also simulate activities such as driving, kickboxing or rope climbing.
Researchers have studied the effects of video gaming to determine if it will help children with muscle, tendon or ligament injuries. It's believed by some that motion active video gaming may improve range of motion and reduce chronic pain. In order for this concept to be effective, however, the gaming console must be compatible with and utilize the above mentioned interactive accessories.
Dancing to Recovery
Another popular activity that may be helpful is a dancing video game. In this type of game, a dance pad with numbered tiles is placed on the floor. The child will step on the tiles in sequence, as indicated on the video monitor or TV screen. As he or she does so, feedback will indicate whether the move was done correctly.
Interactive dancing games helps with balancing skills and coordination. Various modes of play may offer more challenge as the child advances. For instance, there is an endless music mode that continues until the child performs the sequence incorrectly, thus losing the game. Difficulty levels may be set as well, ranging from the easy or beginner mode to intermediate and advanced. The dance games are a fun way to help children willingly participate in PT, and it helps boost their confidence as they improve.
Follow-Up at Home
Does your child already own a video game console with interactive accessories? If so, his or her video game physical therapy program may be followed up at home, if the doctor and therapists approve. Ask the therapist to devise a program that may be followed at your child's own convenience. It's unlikely you'll have to bribe your child to play video games, so why not give it a try and discover the benefits from this much-loved activity?
For more information about your child's options in PT, contact a local clinic or facility.