July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month. Juvenile Arthritis (JA) is a blanket term for the many inflammatory and autoimmune syndromes that affect children 18 and younger. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), estimates the number of U.S. children with JA at about 300,000. As with adults, both therapeutic and recreational exercises are the “best medicine” for controlling and alleviating the symptoms of JA. Studies have shown that JA sufferers have no deleterious effects from engaging in physical activities either aquatic or land-based. All forms of exercise will improve aerobic endurance, increase range of motion (ROM), and strengthen muscles, it may take trial and error to find what works best for a particular child.
Pediatric PTs and OTs are instrumental in developing therapeutic exercise plans for home use, but also advise parents regarding assistive devices for DLAs and adaptive equipment for recreational activities. For the youngest sufferers, any kind of toy that gets them moving can set the tone for more physically challenging sports later. Here are five toys for younger ones to try:
- Elefun & Friends: A slow movement catch game suitable for those with upper body joint arthritis. Ages 3 and up.
- Twister: Padded handles and gently turning disc are easy on joints. Ages 3-7.
- Labyrinth Balance Board: Promotes balance, gross motor skills and concentration while strengthening lower body muscles. Ages 5 and up.
- Zorp Rocket: A breath controlled rocket launcher helps increase respiratory function need for other aerobic activities. Ages 6 and up.
- Rib-It Ball: Unique ribs allow even small hands to grasp without effort, promotes balance and fine motor skills. In a variety of sizes for various ages.
Check out Toys R Us Guide for the Differently-Abled for other selections. Are you a PT, PTA, OT, or COTA who currently works with Juvenile Arthritis patients, or interested in an employment opportunity in this and other fields contact the Centra Team at 800 535 0076 or download our mobile app.