This is a guest post from Patricia Elliott, MPTR. Patricia graduated from Oakland University in 1996 with a Masters Degree in physical therapy, is the owner and a practising physiotherapist at the Dianalla Physiotherapy Centre in Western Australia, and is the mother of 2 active school aged children.
In 2011, the cultural demise of physical activity is evident. Much of our childrens’ lives are centred around sedentary activities. Computers, television, video games and riding in the car have taken the places of playing outside, running, jumping, climbing and exploring. Thus, many children are missing out on stimuli that foster normal neuromotor development.
In 2011…much of our childrens’ lives are centred around sedentary activities
Development of neuromotor control depends on many factors. Sensory input from the vestibular system, the somatosensory system, and the proprioceptive system are all integrated by the brain to provide a person with “body awareness”. This teamed with muscular strength and coordination lead to our ability to control our body’s movement and to acquire new motor skills.
The critical period for mastering control and coordination of large muscle groups in order to perform the fundamental motor skills is between the ages of 3 and 8. Therefore, it is critical that children be provided with opportunities for motor learning and development that help integrate the muscle and sensory systems.
The critical period for mastering control and coordination… is between the ages of 3 and 8
The Tike and the Zen Board do just that….
They both provide sensory input from all three sensory systems while challenging the core muscles to remain stable and the body to remain balanced. The Tike also provides the opportunity to strengthen the larger leg and hip muscles through their use to propel the rider forward.
The Zen Board is a bit more advanced in that it is even less stable. Therefore, a higher level of integration of the muscle and sensory systems is needed to be successful. The brain needs to be able to integrate the greater sensory input with the need for both the core muscles and extremity muscles to be active in order to maintain balance. The Zen Board also has the ability to be made even more challenging by performing other activities whilst balancing on it or by changing the surface the roller is placed on. The Zen Board is not only great for children, but for adults as well!
Development of motor control, muscular strength and coordination starts in infancy. However, if one does not keep these functional movement patterns active, they are easily lost. Lack of strength, lack of coordination and the inability to properly integrate our sensory input with our motor output are some of the main reasons we get injured doing physical activities. The saying, “Use it or lose it.”, has never held more true and the Tike and Zen Board make it both fun and easy to stay active!
Patricia Elliott, MPT
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