A lot of clinical research and investigation went into the creation of the Playpak, but what are the real physical developmental opportunities?
Using the Playpak in this posture, children can benefit from strengthened neck, tummy, shoulder and hip bending (flexor) muscles because they have to lift their heads, arms and legs up against gravity.
Firefly’s Clinical Research Manager, Clare Canale, said: “The ability to develop anti-gravity postures is one of the earliest developmental stages."
"You can see that when a baby is lying on his back and then brings his hands and feet into the midline, so not only is he holding his hands and feet up against gravity but he’s tilting his pelvis, which raises his bottom up and that’s also working against gravity."
"All those things are building blocks towards developing broader skills later on.”
Using the back lying posture and the recommended exercises in the online Playpak programme can also help break up a pattern of straightening or extension of the muscles.
“To break this pattern in this posture, you have to introduce physiological flexion.” Clare explained.
“So, you could use the chest-pad under the head to tilt and flex the head forward slightly; you could use the same piece under the child’s bottom; or you could put a roll under their knees to introduce flexion at the knees."
"But if a child’s tone is very severe it might not be suitable so you should always check with your therapist.”
You might be surprised to know that exercises in the back-lying position can also contribute to upright weight-bearing further down the line.
Clare said: “The Playpak and the activities that go with it are all based on a typical sequence of development."
"Generally, babies kick or push against something placed at their feet, and what that does is help to develop the shape of the foot and get some sense of weight-bearing, which becomes important later on."
"These movements are the precursors for standing and moving.”
Children who ‘log-roll’ can also benefit from the exercises in the Playpak programme.
When children learn to roll they learn sequentially – first they turn their head, then their shoulders rotate, then their trunk rotates and finally they flip their pelvis over.
A lot of children with disabilities tend to ‘log-roll’, where they stay stiff and roll in one movement.
Clare said: “If it helps a child get from A to B in a play situation then that’s ok, but from a therapeutic perspective we would encourage the sequential movement – traditionally, it has been considered better for developing higher-quality skills in the long term.”
Side-lying postures are also achievable in with the Playpak but they are more complex and therapeutic so we recommend that you work with your therapist on these.
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