Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Lesson #16: Babies can do Physical Therapy, too!

on October 16, 2014

Our family loves (well-meaning) questions about our kiddo. We share our life with you all because we like people to understand how “normal” our life is – even though we have some fairly unique characteristics.

We get the most questions about the therapy that Tessa gets through Early Intervention, so I’d like to break down what her sessions look like for each area. Today, we’ll tackle Physical Therapy (PT).

We talked about Tessa’s low muscle tone at little bit at the beginning of this month. Because of the low tone, gross motor skills (rolling, crawling, walking, sitting, etc) are more challenging and take more time to master. On top of that, I think there is a natural human instinct to do things the easiest way possible. This can cause long-term issues, so the overarching goal in PT is to teach Tessa her gross motor skills and to teach her to do them correctly. If you remember back, Tessa started rolling at some ridiculously young age (like, 3 weeks or something). While we were so excited about this, it was tempered by the fact that she was doing it wrong. She would arch her back and roll over on her head. Not such a good long-term method.

Tessa has always been a mover. Since the first flutters in my belly, she has not stopped. One of the original evaluators actually wondered if something might be physically bothering her that was making her squirm. In the NICU, they called her “the swimmer” because of how she flailed her arms and legs.  Her motivation to go, go, go is high. So, PT is her strongest area of development. John wanted an athlete – he has one in Tessa!

During PT, her therapist works with her on her various skills. Right now, it’s crawling, sitting, and weight-bearing on her feet. To practice crawling, we physically help her move her hands (and sometimes knees) to teach her to move forward. In sitting, we do a lot of work on an exercise ball, teaching her to balance and not to throw her body backwards. She also likes to use her hands for balance when she sits, so we work to motivate her by giving her toys and objects that help her reach up and grab. She is mostly motivated by Mardi Gras-style beads and her own reflection in the mirror. 😉

Two of Tessa’s main supports in PT are her “hip helper” pants and her kinesio tape. She wears the hip helpers when she’s practicing her crawling. They are little spandex shorts that are sewn together through the legs.  She wore them for awhile when she first started EI to keep her hips from being malformed.  Now, she likes to stick her left leg out in a “splits” position when up on hands and knees and her little hip helpers keep her from doing that.

Kinesio tape is an interesting little invention. I have absolutely no clue how it works. Supposedly, it helps activate the muscles and kind of “reminds” them to work.  It seems strange.. . However, anecdotally, Tessa went all summer without it and it seemed like she slowed down. Once we were taping again in August, she has made huge gains. It may or may not be a coincidence… But I’m not opposed to trying!


We love PT and we love Rachel, Tessa’s therapist! She has sessions once a week.  We try to practice with her when we can, mostly just through the way we play with her.  We do our best.  🙂  Up next, we’ll share about Speech!


One response to “Lesson #16: Babies can do Physical Therapy, too!

  1. Oneinamillion says:

    Just had to say I LOVE Tessa’s little outie belly button.

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