What many parents don't know is that physical therapy can help with balance training! PT isn't just for children with developmental delays - as Physical Therapists, we are trained to improve or restore mobility, and balance training is one of our expertises!
Earlier this year, Fong et al published a study and found that a specific functional movement–power training program was effective in the enhancement of balance strategies and neuromuscular performance in children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD). It also appears to be effective as a stand-alone intervention designed to improve balance strategies, postural stability, and leg muscle performance. Even if your child does not have a diagnosis of DCD, these exercises can still be taught to your kiddo to help them improve their balance!
- Standing balance on a stability trainer! My personal favorite is the dynadisc, but you can also use a BOSU or a rocker board as well. This will help to train bipedal static balance and proprioception. Have them throw and catch a ball or reach for objects around them for a dynamic challenge!
- Walk along a straight line with heels raised to train dynamic balance and coordination! Progress to heel-to-toe walk along a straight line to facilitate dynamic coordinated muscle contractions in the limbs and trunk.
- Double-leg jump forward! Jumping helps to train dynamic balance and coordination. Progress to single-leg hop forward - aka HOPSCOTCH! This also will help to strengthen the hip and knee extensors and calf muscles.
- Squats! You can have them hold onto heavier objects and toys as they progress to make an added strength challenge.
Fong, S. S., Guo, X., Cheng, Y. T., Liu, K. P., Tsang, W. W., Yam, T. T., ... & Macfarlane, D. J. (2016). A Novel Balance Training Program for Children With Developmental Coordination Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Medicine, 95(16).
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