Use these basic physical therapy supplies to create your own Physical Therapy To-Go Kit!
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Have you ever thought about what the staple pieces of physical therapy equipment in your therapist tool-kit really are?
I have spent years with a trunk full of physical therapy products and gear and have only recently started scaling it back to a few key items that I seem to use all the time. As I transitioned into virtual therapy, I realized that if my students had just a few simple items at home with them, we could address a ton of developmental skills through play! I even purchased and put together a few kits with the items below and dropped them off to kids at home. It was an inexpensive way to keep them moving even when we couldn’t be together in-person.
I now recognize that less is more and that, sometimes, the fewer things I have to work with inspire the most creative and loved activities! These ideas would work for a lot of occupational therapists too!
Here is what I have pared my bag down to:
PTs use a wide variety of balls on any given day. I used to have a large exercise ball that I would plop my little preschoolers on to work on core strength and a medium size therapy ball that I would have my elementary kiddos sit on to do the same. Not only are these balls big and hard to carry, they would often deflate in my trunk over the cold Ohio winters.
Now, I carry a simple foam playground ball. These are light, bright and won’t go flat. I can use them to do some simple core strengthening activities with my kids, play our Ball Skills Interactive Movement Game, or, or course, work on kicking, catching and throwing.
Very rarely do I treat a child who can use a jump rope in the way it’s meant to be used. If they could, they certainly wouldn’t need me! But a jump rope can be used for so many fun gross motor activities.
Place it on the floor and jump over it.
Tie it between two fixed objects and have kids sit on a scooter and use their arms to pull along the length of the rope — great for core strengthening and stability!
Walk the line. Stretch the jump rope out on the floor and use it as a make-shift balance beam.
Tie it to a laundry basket filled with books to pull for some heavy work.
Use it as an obstacle to duck under for body awareness.
Check out these free printable jump rope game cards!
There are so many ways to play with bubbles that we created a whole post about it! Here are some examples…
Pop them with different body parts.
Jump to pop bubbles.
Try to catch bubbles.
A ROLL OF PAINTER’S OR MASKING TAPE
Tape is easy to carry around and can turn an ordinary therapy session into a work of art – literally! We have some favorite movement activities using tape already on the blog. Follow that link to find ideas for facilitating midline crossing, balance and gross motor skill building all using tape.
One of our favorite ways to use tape is to create a shape on the floor, like this Christmas Tree, and have kids balance along the lines to place objects. They will be having so much fun that they won’t realize how challenging this balance activity really is!
YOGA OR CORE DECKS
Colorful cards from Yoga or Core Decks are an easy and very portable way to get kids practicing balance, body awareness and strength! You can also give kids a bit of control over the session by letting them pick from the deck to create their own movement adventure. Try Yoga Pretzels or this Core and Upper Body Strengthening Deck.
Roll it up and pack it in. A yoga mat can be spread out in a hallway (where all PTs are used to working) for practicing transitions, core exercises, etc. It can also be rolled up for kids to stand on for a slightly unstable surface for balance activities. Cut it up into squares and create targets for jumping or throwing or make a pattern for hopscotch!
Check out all of our favorite yoga mat activities!
What kid doesn’t love a sticker? There are so many options!
Place them on the wall at varying heights for jumping practice.
Use them on the stairs as visual targets for encouraging an alternating pattern.
Practice body awareness by calling out a body part and having children put a sticker on their nose, shoulder, elbow, etc.
Encourage lower extremity strengthening by having kids step up on a surface (maybe that folded yoga mat) to retrieve a sticker then step down to the floor and squat to place it on paper.
Or, simply use stickers for an end of session “job well done”!
Check out other fun ways to use stickers to promote development!
Did I miss anything? What else would you add to your therapy bag?