Monthly Archives: September 2014

Why the WalkAide ®?

Walkaide image 2

By Bridget Hobbs

Does your child have difficulty lifting up his foot or trip often while walking? Does he reject wearing his brace? The WalkAide ® system is a lightweight cuff, placed below the knee, that delivers functional electronic stimulation to the muscles that help to lift up the foot during walking. Children with cerebral palsy, stroke, incomplete spinal cord injury, spastic paraplegia, traumatic brain injury, as well as other upper motor neuron injuries, may benefit from the WalkAide ®.

According to Innovative Neurotronics, the company that manufactures the WalkAide ® , the “National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical results have shown that the use of the WalkAide ® System by children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) offers significant rehabilitation benefits such as: improved walking, improved range of motion and significant muscle growth”

Don’t know where to get the WalkAide ® or how to get started? Good news! We now have a group of skilled physical therapists trained at the Easter Seals Villa Park Center that can help evaluate your child for the WalkAide ® device. Each child will be provided a WalkAide ® unit to trial for a set duration in order to determine if the WalkAide ® is beneficial for your child before attaining their own device.

The WalkAide® clinic is on Wednesday mornings at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley at the Villa Park Center. Please contact Diana Dixon for information and scheduling at 630.282.2022.

1: Prosser LA, Curataio LA, Alter KE, Damiano DL. Acceptability and potential effectiveness of a foot drop simulator in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 2012; 1-6.

2: Damiano DL, Prosser LA, Curataio LA. Short term effects of a functional electronic stimulation device on tibialis anterior muscle size and ankle control during gait in children with Cerebral Palsy.

©2012 Innovative Neurotronics


Backpack Safety Tips

Backpack Safety

By Laura Spanel

With school in full swing, now is a good time to check your child’s backpack. Every year the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has a National School Backpack Awareness Day. This year it was held yesterday on September 17, 2014. They have also published several handouts on proper backpack use and safety tips as well as several videos for both kids and adults to watch.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2013, nearly 22,200 strains, sprains, dislocations, and fractures from backpacks were treated in hospital emergency rooms, physicians’ offices, and clinics. It is recommended that kids don’t carry more than 10% of their body weight in a backpack in order to prevent back aches and injuries. This means if your child is 50 pounds they shouldn’t be carrying a backpack that weighs more than 5 pounds. Due to the high number of injuries from backpack use, it is recommended that you talk to your children about telling you if their back hurts, they have numbness or tingling. Watch to see if they arch their back more or slump more when wearing their backpack. All of these are signs that the backpack is too heavy or not fitting correctly.

When looking at your child’s backpack, first make sure the height of the backpack extends from approximately 2 inches below the shoulder blades to waist level or slightly above the waist. Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly on the child’s back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles. Straps should be worn on both shoulders to evenly distribute the weight. A backpack that offers a hip or chest belt will help take some strain off the neck and shoulder muscles. Some other suggestions include using backpacks with wheels and remembering to organize the backpack so that the heaviest items are the ones that are closest to the back and that books and materials won’t slide around in the backpack.

When shopping for your child’s backpack, it is recommended that you have your child come with you and try on the backpacks to ensure proper fit. Try to find backpacks with limited outside pockets to decreased clutter. Remember a middle school child’s backpack needs to be bigger than elementary school child’s backpack. The book Organizing the Disorganized Child by Martin L. Kutscher and Marcella Moran offers simple, yet practical suggestions for purchasing different backpacks. In the beginning of the book there is a quiz you can take to determine your child’s best organization style (visual, spatial, chronological) and the authors make suggestions on the type of backpack that might best suit your child. For example, children who are visual organizers might prefer backpacks that are bright and colorful versus children who are chronological organizers might like backpacks with separate compartments to store different materials.