Category Archives: Occupational Therapy

Trunks

Trunks! Adapted For Use Across All Ages & Abilities!

Sarah Glovasky, M.S., OTR/L

Trunks® is an engaging, interactive game developed by Diane Long, EdD, MOTR/L  and published by Therapro. Trunks® has gameplay challenges for all abilities!

How Do You Play?

In this game players move their bodies, make sounds and perform actions from memory! Gameplay involves picking an Action Memory Card and performing the action depicted. Six categories of actions are involved:

  • Musical You: Encourages creativity with motor actions that produce sounds.
  • Animal Sounds: Players mimic animal sounds.
  • Animal Motions: Players move their bodies and demonstrate how animals move.
  • Sound Like: Players recall and reproduce commonly heard sounds.
  • Pretend To: Encourages imagination as players pretend to be like someone else.
  • Show How: Involves a step-by-step demonstration of an action requiring the player to create an original sequence.

Trunks involves remembering and performing motor sequences. Players draw a card, look at the given action from the six categories previously mentioned, turn the card over and perform the action from memory. There are visual pictures as well as words on each card. On their next turn they would draw an additional card and perform both actions in their memory sequence, without looking at the cards. When an action is performed correctly, the player gets to keep their card and continue to work toward building a “trunk” (a series of 4 cards that, when combined, create an elephant’s trunk). 

The ability to perform individual actions may differ from child to child. Furthermore, the ability to memorize subsequent actions or sequences may vary as well. For this reason the game was created with many variations that afford enjoyable game play for all ability levels.

What Skill Area Does Trunks! Target?

Working Memory! Working Memory is a necessity for engaging in a variety of everyday occupations including learning, socializing and task completion. Sequencing naturally falls under the broader category of working memory.  Inherent to the game is the pairing of multi-modal forms of input (visual cues, reading cues, motor engagement, etc.). Read on to learn how to adapt and modify this game to target other skill areas! 

How Can Trunks Be Adapted?

Preschool. This game can be used to target motor planning development for kids in preschool. Choose a card from the deck and ask the kids to complete the action. Things like pretend to lift weights, leap like a frog, and pretend to lick a drippy ice cream cone are good activities to choose. You can also use the Sounds Like cards for the kids to use their voices to participate. This is also a great option when working on oral motor and language skill. What does a train sound like?, snort like a pig, and hoot like an owl are sounds that preschool kids should be able to perform. Having their peers guess the sounds and or actions turns it into a whole group game everyone can participate in. Pro Tip: Pre-picking cards targeting the specific skill or development level of the group is always a good idea! 

Early Elementary Age. Working memory develops as kids age. Building a trunk of 2-3 trunk cards can make the game achievable for the younger crowd. The pictures on the trunk cards are helpful for the non-readers at this age (which many of them are)! Again preselecting cards can be key. If you are working with students who are nonverbal, take the sound cards out. If you are working with children who have limits in mobility, take the jumping and balance cards out. Pro Tip: For students struggling with motor planning, pre-teach and practice the actions on the cards prior to the whole group activity to help bolster confidence!

Later Elementary and Beyond. Target teamwork, this can be a difficult skill for some! Have the kids build the entire trunk, working in teams or as a whole group. Pro Tip: If you need an additional challenge, have the players remember the sequence both forwards and then backwards!

Other Helpful Tips

  • Use as many trunk pieces or make as many trunks as you have time for! For a 10 min group use 2-3 pieces or just complete one trunk. If you have a longer amount of  time, make multiple trunks!
  • Use the extra action cards or don’t! You know the players best. Is the extra challenge needed or will it be too much?
  • Playing the game Trunks is a great opportunity for co-treatments! Physical therapists, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, and teachers all have skills that can be worked on during this game!

Trunks is a great option for targeting many key skill areas. It’s versatility makes it a great choice for a wide range of ages and ability levels. Check out Therapro’s handy guide, Gear Up for Games, for more great game adaptations and modifications. 

98th Annual AOTA Conference & Expo

Salt Lake City hosted the 98th Annual AOTA Conference & Expo this year.  Traditionally, it is the largest gathering of occupational therapy professionals in the world, with 7,000 in attendance this year! The beautiful snow-capped mountains were a magical backdrop for all the conference festivities.

We were one of over 375 exhibitors! The Therapro crew we brought included Karen, Linda, Allyson, and me. We enjoyed meeting all the therapists, educators, students, and parents who found our exhibit at Booth1500 in the Expo Hall. It was great to hear shouts from those who strolled by with remarks like “We love Therapro!  Thanks for being here!” We were delighted that so many of our friends and colleagues stopped by to visit, including Jan Hollenbeck, Emily Zeman, Diana Henry, Melanie Potock, Jenny Clark, Tee Stock, and many more. This year we shared our booth with authors, Carolyn Murray-Slutsky, MS, OTR, C/NDT and Betty A. Paris, PT, MEd, C/NDT, along with Carolyn’s husband, Herman. Their publications: Autism Interventions, Is It Sensory or Is It Behavior?, DTI: Laminated Card Series – Sensory Modulation & Positive Behavioral Strategies, and Sleep ‘N Sync materials were extremely popular, even more so because Carolyn and Betty provided a workshop at the conference.

We offered visitors an opportunity to try out some new products we brought, including:

We showcased a new Chewy Tube product called the Sensory Spoon, which Karen and Filomena helped design. It is the first self-feeding tool of its kind that provides a child with tactile input to the palm, a comfortable smooth textured spoon with a natural “stop” to prevent gagging, and a bowl that helps facilitate lip closure to the spoon for easy clearing. The feedback from therapists and parents of children with special needs was very positive.

Three happy winners of the Therapro raffles walked away with Therapro products. These lucky therapists included Ester, Miranda, and Chelsey. They were excited to receive some of our favorite products in their surprise bag: TracKit, Therapy Putty, Reading Guide Strips, Sensory Story Strategy Card Deck, Novenops, and Letter Treasure Hunt.

By Day #4 of the conference, our Therapro team had sore feet, but big smiles on our faces. We had a blast meeting so many great people who loved sharing their ideas, opinions, and experiences with us. They often remarked that it was wonderful to discuss products with us because we are OTs who use the products in our own practices.

I want to leave you with a quote from Lia, an occupational therapist from Philadelphia, as she purchased a Wind-Up Ladybug and a Sensory Connection Self-Regulation Workbook: “Nothing helps self-regulation like a ladybug.”

Thank you, AOTA – Salt Lake City.  We learned so much and can’t wait to see you again next spring in New Orleans 2019!  We’ll be ready for you!!

Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L

The Value of Therapy Balls and How Best to Store Them

by Shoshanah Shear

I have had the joy of working in four different countries and a number of different facilities. Some equipment regardless of the setting one works in or what the age of the client is. Therapy Balls definitely fit into this category. I have enjoyed using these in treatment with head-injured or stroke patients just as much as with children with learning problems, or even the blind.

I think balls of various sizes, textures, and shapes are a tell-tale sign that you have stepped into an OT room or department. They assist in meeting so many goals and certainly show how dynamic OT is and how creative we need to be with every treatment plan and session. Let’s face it, balls are fun for most ages. They are colorful and versatile. Being round means that they are dynamic, resulting in the ability to grade therapy sessions by working on an unstable surface.

Therapy balls are beneficial for improving:

  • motor control
  • muscle tone
  • trunk control or strengthening core muscles
  • upper limb function for clients with orthopedic or neurological disorders
  • introducing fun games and exercises into therapy
  • eye-hand coordination
  • righting and balance reactions
  • weight shift

Balls can encourage a child to feel excited to come into a treatment room or to prepare a blind child for hippotherapy. Balls can be just as important to an older woman needing to reduce internal scarring from repeated abdominal surgery.

There is one problem with therapy balls: storage. Without due care, your therapy room can quickly become messy, cluttered, and a potential safety hazard. We don’t want our clients tripping over equipment!

If you’ve ever worked in an OT department or been involved in developing a therapy department in limited space, then you can appreciate the need to organize physio/Gymnic balls. There are times that facilities will look into securing a suitable shelf, setting up a hammock specifically for therapy balls, or acquiring an array of other wall or ceiling fittings.

But what can do you do if your practice is in rented space that doesn’t permit attaching anything to the walls or ceilings? Or if your OT room is in a building with prefabricated walls and ceilings, reducing the strength and stability of the internal structure?

When I started in private practice, one of the first pieces of equipment I obtained was a large therapy ball with bells inside. Amongst my first private clients was a child who was blind from birth and severely sensory-deprived, hence the bells within the ball. It was wonderful to introduce a ball game in which he could participate because he could hear where the ball was.

The problem was how to store the therapy ball. I grappled with this dilemma until I discovered the wonderful Ball Stacker. It looks professional and neat and makes a good impression when a parent comes into the therapy room for the first time. Now you can use therapy balls even if you can’t attach brackets, shelves, or hammocks to the wall or ceiling.

Another valuable accessory to the therapy ball, is the Ball Handpump which offers the freedom to alter the pressure in the ball according to the goals of your client.

 

Shoshanah Shear

Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer, author of “Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapist’s Story” and co-author of “Tuvia Finds His Freedom”.