Childhood Diseases

Posted by: CJ2 | 2007/03/06


Stimulation & more...

My baby's paed suspects that he has hypotonia, but the EMG test did not confirm this, he was 3months when this test was done. He is, however very floppy and blind. I read that they need sensory stimulation in order to help them build their muscle tone. How do I go about introducing this to him and what type of activities?

Expert's Reply



There are many causes of a floppy baby. It is essential to make a diagnosis. I would suggest that you take your baby to see a paediatric neurologist.

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Posted by: Trish | 2007/03/06

Exercises and Stimulation Therapy for Hypotonia
From Early Parent Intervention Project (ARC Texas)
General Sensory Stimulation for Infants

Give your new baby lots of love, smiles, handling and encouragement. As early as possible expose the child to as many sensory stimuli as possible:
mobiles, wind chimes, patterned crib sheets, pictures, (bright magazine pages, taped to the wall and changed often), musical toys, and a cradle gym for reach and grasp and visual stimulation. The primary colors (red, blue, yellow) are the most attractive to a child.

Constantly talk to your infant, tell him what you are doing, repeat the sounds he makes, encourage him to make sounds.

Rocking the baby is excellent, and to insure extra balance stimulation, a swing on a frame is very good.

Have mirrors at a level where the child can see himself. This helps in the development of his self-image.

Have a safe place for the baby in each room so he is stimulated by the changes of environment.

Tape recordings of family or baby's own sounds are helpful. Music and singing is great, as are the rhythmic movements of being danced around in your arms.

Place toys at baby's midline. When holding the baby in your arms, resist the thrust of his legs, and stimulate feet to standing position on your lap.

After bathing the child, be sure to stimulate his entire body with rubbing with a terry cloth towel.

Always tell your child what you are doing for him - form the habit of repeating each step: "Now I am going to wash your face, then let's wash your hands ".
"This is your shirt, and next we'll put on your red socks," etc.

Beginning Exercises

The earlier that you begin to work to improve your baby's muscle tone the better, to keep the child on a near-normal progression of development and achievement. Seek the help of an infant specialist, physical or occupational therapist. Parent to baby stimulation should start in early infancy. It should be a happy, unhurried and pleasant experience. Start by doing a few simple exercises each time you change your baby.

Deep pressure on the feet and hands is good for stimulation, especially the great toe pad and the finger tips, always brushing from heel to toe and from the heel of the hand to the finger tips.
Pull each foot up to the mouth and circle the mouth with the great toe, also circle the mouth with their fingertips.
Rub hands and feet together, left to left, then right to right and then cross pattern.
Playing pattycake and pattyfoot is excellent to bring the hands and feet to the center of the body.
Using a soft 1 inch paint brush, stroke the midline from the chest to the diapers. (Discontinue this exercise if your baby shows tactile defensiveness).
The first four exercises help to bring the hands and feet into a ball-type movement and centers the action in front of his eyes.

If your baby's legs tend to rotate out, it is more beneficial to hold him with his legs facing forward and held together. Techniques like this can be easily incorporated in your daily routine. The amount of low tone varies from baby to baby. A professional will help you devise a plan to meet your babies needs.

At about three to four months of age, your baby will be interested in reaching for, and grasping objects that attract him, rattles, balls, keys, etc. Hold bright objects where the baby can easily see and reach them. Help him put his hands on the object the first few times, be sure to praise him for any success or successful attempts. Never put an object into his hand once he has learned to grasp. Offer it to him and allow him a few moments to grasp it. Also, have the cradle gym suspended low enough to stimulate eye and hand movement.

About four to five months the baby will be interested in rolling over. This movement can be assisted by placing him on a large towel or blanket on the floor. Lift one end and gently roll the baby over. Then, lift the other end and roll him back. Gradually increase to rolling over several times each way, always gently!

To help strengthen the muscles that support his back, hold him in a sitting position supported by your forearm, then:

Deep stroke his back from neck to bottom several times.
Bouncing the baby gently on is bottom is good simulation, and should be continued until he is walking. Bounce while holding firmly by the torso and not under the arms.
Shift your baby's weight from one buttock to the other on your lap or on a large ball. This helps equilibrium and balance. As he feels unbalanced, he should learn to right himself. He may also begin to learn to take weight on his arms.
At about nine months, your baby will indicate a readiness to crawl by moving along the floor toward a person or an attractive object. He may move by creeping (swimming motions with stomach on floor), by pulling or pushing himself forward or backward with elbows, or by rolling over and over. Usually backward movementbegins before going forward.

Use a towel for a body sling and support your child in a crawling position, then waggle the towel to stimulate the crawling motion. When a hand and knee position can be held by your child and he begins to rock in this position, he is ready to crawl. If the unsupported child pulls along with arms alone, assist him by moving his legs in the proper rhythm.

Do not insist on any exercises or learning activity if your child actively resists. Discontinue it for a week or two, then try again, patiently and pleasantly. Use our suggestions as general guidelines, we hope they will stimulate you to use your own ingenuity to help in your child's development. Remember to involve other members of the family in activities.

From Early Parent Intervention Project (ARC Texas)

Reply to Trish

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