Thursday, September 11, 2014

Easy Activity for Following Directions: Therapy on a Shoestring Budget

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center Masters of Occupational Therapy students recently completed a number of awesome media projects! For the assignment, each student was given the name of a common household item.  They were instructed to design a creative, appropriate therapy activity for a patient with a specific diagnosis. They did an amazing job! This first media project was submitted by Megan. Her common house hold item was a sponge!
Items Needed:
Different Colors of Kitchen Sponges
A Variety of Drinking Cups in Different Colors and Sizes
 Use a marker to form various shapes on the sponges and cut out each shape.
Tell the child which sponge (blue circle, red square, etc) to pick up and where to place it (under the red cup, next to the green cup, inside the yellow cup, etc.). This activity addresses memory, spatial relations and following directions. 

Posted with permission of the students

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Weighted Scoop Plate Tray: Therapy on a Shoestring Budget!

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center Masters of Occupational Therapy students recently completed a number of awesome media projects!

For the assignment, each student was given the name of a common household item.  They were instructed to design a creative, appropriate therapy activity for a patient with a specific diagnosis. They did an amazing job! This first media project was submitted by Zann. Her common house hold item was a cereal box!

Weighted Scoop Plate Tray

Assistive Device:
o   A weighted food tray with attachable scoop plates on the sides so that the patient will be able to scoop food that he cannot pick up the conventional way.

o   This will be used to assist patients in eating food during the early stages of his recovery. This scoop plate tray provides a larger surface area to scoop food upwards. The tray is also weighted for patients who are unable to stabilize the plate. 

Materials used:
o   Large size cereal box
o   Rocks (or any other heavy material)
o   Velcro
o   Paper towel roll (empty)
o   Plates
o   Duck tape (optional: if patient desires)

This device can be easily decorated to fit the client’s interest with duck tape or contact paper! 

* Posted with permission of the student.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Therapy Services for Torticollis

      Does your baby have a flat spot on the side or back of this head? The medical terms for these conditions are plagiocephaly and brachycephaly. Positional plagiocephaly means “oblique head.” When baby’s head is viewed from above, the shape of the head has a parallelogram appearance. This is caused by pressure that has occurred to one side of baby’s head. Positional brachycephaly happens when a baby has spent to much time positioned on his back, often lying against a plastic surface, such as a carseat. The pressure from prolonged positioning like this causes the back of the head to flatten unevenly, resulting in a short and wide head shape. The height of the back of the head may also be high.
Flat spots on the head occur because the skull bone of an infant is soft and flexible, allowing for the brain growth that happens early in life. When a baby stays one position for too long with her head resting against a firm surface, the pressure from that surface prevents the skull from developing into a normal shape.
This is a nice position for holding your baby, and it takes pressure off of the head. 

In some cases, babies prefer sleeping or sitting with their head turned in one direction, because of tight muscles on one side of the neck. When a baby spends too much time with his head turned to one side, he can also develop acquired torticollis. In this condition, the neck muscles shorten on one side due to the position of the head. Baby’s neck turns in a twisted position and pulls his head to one side. His chin typically points to the other side. Torticollis contributes to flat head syndrome because baby’s head is typically turned in the same direction, and causes pressure against the side of the head. Acquired torticollis can be treated with stretching exercises from a physical or occupational therapist in conjunction with a home program carried out by the parents. If you suspect your infant has torticollis, consult with your pediatrician immediately. If your physician has ordered therapy for torticollis and you live in the Memphis, Tennessee area, feel free to contact me about therapy services. 

For information about therapy services for an infant who has acquired torticollis, click HERE, then click on the contact tab in the upper right hand corner of the page.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hula-Hoop T-Shirt Rug Activity

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center Masters of Occupational Therapy students completed some awesome media projects that I'm going to be sharing with you in a number of upcoming posts.

For the assignment, each student was given the name of a common household item, such as a paper plate.  They were instructed to design a creative, appropriate therapy activity for a patient with a specific diagnosis. They did an amazing job! This first media project was submitted by Ashleigh. Her item was a hula hoop. This activity works on ROM, stretching, visual motor skills, and motor planning skills.

Hula-Hoop T-Shirt Rug Activity

Materials Needed:
6-9 t-shirts (without side seam)
1 Youth Large (used for spokes)

1)    Starting at the bottom of the shirts, cut the t-shirts in to 1-inch strips. Do not use the bottom strip that includes the seam. You will need 11 loops for the first shirt (youth large). Cut the shirt all the way up the trunk until you reach the sleeves. (The rest of the shirt will not be used)
2)    Using the 11 loops from the youth shirt, stretch the first one around the hula-hoop.
3)    Stretch the next loop onto the hula-hoop perpendicular to the first loop.
4)    Continue step 3 until all 11 loops are used.
5)    Push two spokes together to help create a weaving pattern.
6)    Wrap a strip of t-shirt around the 2 spokes (that you just pushed together) and pull it back through itself.
7)    Weave the strip over and under, keeping the two layers of the strips together until you reach about 5 layers. At the end of the loop, wrap another loop around and pull it back through on itself.
8)    Push the pieces down on the rug so that no spaces are seen, but do not pull it too tight because the rug will not lie flat.
9)    After the fifth layer, weave between each spoke individually. When you get to the spoke that was pushed together, separate it and keep one together and separate the other. Continue the over-under pattern until you reach the desired size of the rug.
10)  Cut the last loop and tie it to the closest spoke and tuck it into the rug
11)  Cut each loop (spoke) off the hula-hoop and double knot it.

Posted with Ashleigh's permission.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Tummy Time Tips....For the Tummy Time Blog Hop!!!!

     I guess it's because I'm a therapist, but moms frequently ask me, “Is tummy time really that important?”  This is an important and valid question, and every parent needs to know the answer. Tummy time plays a critical role in infant development, as it provides a base for motor skills such as head control, rolling over, and pulling up.
     Tummy time is especially important now that that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all babies sleep on their backs. Prior to 1992, most babies in the United States slept on their stomachs, but years of scientific research revealed that infants were approximately 12 times more likely to be found on their stomachs than on their backs when they had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). So in 1992 the AAP formally recommended that all infants be placed to sleep on their backs or sides to reduce the risk of SIDS. Later, the side position was eliminated from the recommendation because infants could roll from their sides to their stomachs during sleep. Since this extremely successful marketing campaign, 50% fewer infants have died from SIDS. Putting babies to sleep on their backs turned out to be a simple and effective way to save the lives of infants.
     Eventually, pediatricians and therapists noticed a sudden rise in infants diagnosed with flat spots on the head, and they also noticed an increase in the number of infants with mild delays in gross motor skills, such as rolling over and pulling up. Evidently, many parents were not positioning their infants on the tummy for play out of a fear of SIDS, and this limited tummy time was having some negative consequences. In 1996, the AAP formally recommended that parents provide babies with supervised playtime on the stomach to promote growth and development and prevent flat spots from forming on the head.
     My research has revealed that many infants resist being placed on the belly. This is probably because they aren’t familiar with tummy time and haven’t gained the head control and upper body strength that is necessary to maintain the position comfortably. But rest assured, with time and a few basic and very beneficial techniques, any infant can learn to tolerate tummy time. There is a solution to the problem, and there are ways to introduce tummy time and increase tolerance without making a parents’ and baby’s life miserable. In fact, it can be the total opposite of miserable. Tummy time provides an opportunity to spend one on one time with baby and create a special bond that can last a lifetime!
     In the beginning you should set up a regular schedule for tummy time. You can plan to carry it out after naps or after diaper changes, just be sure to have a plan in place. A general guideline should be that half of the time that baby spends for play should be on the tummy, and remember, it is important to vary your baby’s position every 15 to 20 minutes during playtime. It is important to be aware that tummy time is any combination of positions in which your infant is NOT on the back and encourages baby to use the back, shoulder and neck muscles. This includes time spent in your arms and on your lap. Most importantly, don’t look upon tummy time as a chore, keep in mind that this special time is an important part of baby’s daily routine, which provides an opportunity to bond and develop the close relationship with your infant that you’ve always dreamed of. For more information on tummy time and some specific tips and suggestions on how to increase infant tolerance to the position, visit my website @

Also, for more information about tummy time as well as some wonderful brochures and handouts, visit

Tummy Time Therapy Blogger Blog Hop

Is Tummy Time Important A Therapy Blogger Blog HopBelow you will find all the posts in the Tummy Time therapy blogger blog hop. So many great ideas and thoughts on tummy time from Occupational Therapist and Physical Therapists.

The Importance of Tummy Time for Babies - Golden Reflections Blog

Tummy Time & Baby's First Year - The Recycling OT

How to Use a Therapy Ball to Make Tummy Time Easier and More Fun for Baby - Mama OT

5 Awesome Toys for Tummy Time! - The Inspired Treehouse

Terrific Tummy Time Positions - Your Kids OT

Tips For Tummy Time From A Physical Therapist - Pink Oatmeal

Tummy Time : The Basics - Therapy Fun Zone

Tummy Time: Developmental Consequences & Future Implications - Tools to Grow, Inc.

Tummy Time Tips - Pedatric OT Tips

Tummy Time Just Isn't For Babies - Your Therapy Source

Tummy Time - More Than Just A Buzz Word - Starfish Therapies

Tummy Time Never Gets Old - Playapy Platform

Saturday, July 26, 2014


During the month of July, The American Occupational Therapy Association is encouraging therapists and students to share their #OTLifeHack ideas on social media. AOTA describes a life hack as:

"any trick, shortcut, skill, or new method that solves an everyday problem."
 July has been a crazy month, so I'm just now getting around to posting on this topic. What a great idea!!! Here are a 3 of my "go to" life hacks for therapy:

Rainy Day Indoor Game Tape

On a sunny day, I love to pull out my sidewalk chalk for all sorts or therapy games. However, rainy or cold weather means therapy is likely to occur indoors. No fear! I just pull the gym tape out of my therapy bag. You can use this tape to make a bean bag toss, a hop scotch space, or whatever else comes to mind! It's simple to place and peels up easily when your session is over.
Quick and Easy Foot Rest

If your budget is tight and you're in need of a foot rest, just recycle an old phone book or a stack of magazines! Keep stacking until the footrest is tall enough. Cover the books with colorful duct tape to make the foot rest fun and durable!
                       Easy Footrest

Do it yourself Bean Bags
Have you ever wondered what to do with those "single" socks or baby booties that turn up while you're folding clothes? Here's a tip...use them to make bean bags! Just fill the bootie or sock with beans/rice or both, tuck the open end in and stitch it together. Turn the socks inside out to add a bit of texture for an added sensory experience! There's no limit to bean bag activities, so make your own set now!

#OTLifeHack, #TherapyonaShoestringBudget

Monday, July 21, 2014

Spelling and Strengthening!!!

Do you know of a student who has finger/hand weakness, poor eye-hand coordination and weak spelling skills? If so, you may want to try this "clothespin-spelling" activity. 

You'll need:

Plastic clothespins (these require more strength than the wooden ones)
Sticker/Label Paper
Paint stick or ruler
 Print all of the letters needed for the spelling words using 26 - 28 font size on sticky-back label paper. Cut out each letter and stick it on a clothespin. I like to put the same letter on both sides of the clothespin.
Call out a spelling word and instruct the child to spell the word correctly by placing each letter/clothespin in order. Once she spells the word correctly, have her "sound out" the word.  This activity is good for visual scanning, spelling, finger strengthening and eye-hand coordination.