Being confined to bed is no fun for anyone, and least of all a highly energetic youngster whose sole goal is to be moving — a lot! You probably have experienced a change in your own behavior when you've been confined to bed for some reason. Exercise has several physical benefits, but less familiar to most are the mental and behavioral benefits that come along with the movement.
In studies with children who suffer from autism, data has shown a clear improvement in the children's activity level and ability to concentrate with just 30 minutes of aerobic activity, and improvement in thinking skills and performance after 20 minutes in those who did or did not have ADHD. An adult's physical activity also helps prevent depression and combat behavioral disorders, and the same thing occurs in children. So, how can you help your young clients confined to bed, and their parents, enjoy the benefits of movement and exercise?
Children may be confined to bed for a number of reasons, so as you consider the activities listed below, remember not all will work for all children. Along with physical activity and exercise, children who are in bed also require stimulation of their minds. There are several fun activities that help to stave off boredom and keep children busy and productive. Encourage your client’s parents to read a book with their child, and then having discussions about it in the evening over dinner. Older children may find puzzle and quiz books help keep their mind occupied.
Arts and crafts activities can help bring out your client’s creative side. Beaded necklaces and friendship bracelets are gifts girls can give their friends once they return to school. Boys and girls may enjoy making paper cars or airplanes, building models and painting. Glow in the dark toys, magnetic books, and card games are more activities you can do with your client. When something is needed to do alone, consider a small laptop with online games or video chatting with their friends.
Children love making noise and banging to the beat of the music. Even older kids get a kick out of banging on Mom's pots and pans to loud music. Design an obstacle race for your little charge who is stuck in bed. On a large board set up obstacles for a small ball or pea to travel through. Give your client a straw so they can blow the ball around the obstacle course. This improves the respiratory system and is fun to do when they can compete against you.
Some children are very creative, and it might be time for them to express that creativity by writing a book or learning a new language. If they don't enjoy reading, audiobooks are a great way to be entertained with little effort. If your client is able to get out of bed in a wheelchair and into the kitchen, it may be time to try new recipes and bake cupcakes. This is a great activity to help their parents as well!
When your client needs more exercise than dancing in bed or making music can provide, think about using stretches, light weight lifting with hand-held weights or leg weights, ball squeezes between the knees or a hand pump bicycle to work the upper arms and get your client’s heart rate going.
Of course, each of these activities will be based on whether your client is physically capable. Before undertaking any physical activity ensure it meets with the approval of your client’s family and their physician.
Keeping a bedridden child occupied and entertained can be a challenge, but with a little creativity, it can be a time they remember as being less boring and more fun.
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