Taping: That Extra Set of Hands You Need

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By, Laura Znajda, PT,  Manager of Community Based Therapy and Continuing Education

Pediatric therapists have been known to use every one of their own limbs to assist children to align their bodies and move successfully. When the therapists run out of hands and feet, they turn to additional supports for help—adjuncts like therapeutic tape, elastic wraps, and compression garments.

Elastic tape over the Abdominal Oblique muscles helps this 8-year-old with Cerebral Palsy to activate the muscles that keep his ribcage and pelvis stable. This helps him sit with better balance and move his legs more easily while stepping.
Elastic tape over the Abdominal Oblique muscles helps this 8-year-old with Cerebral Palsy to activate the muscles that keep his ribcage and pelvis stable. This helps him sit with better balance and move his legs more easily while stepping.

Therapeutic Taping

Elastic tape (Kinesiotape and KT Tape are 2 well-known brands) has long been used in the sports and fitness industry to relieve pain and support muscles and joints. Now therapeutic taping is used with children as well, often to assist a weak muscle to work better or to re-align a body part so that the muscles can work more effectively.

Tape that is stretched over the Tibialis Anterior muscle helps this 2 year old with Down Syndrome lift her toes in order to step up stairs.
Tape that is stretched over the Tibialis Anterior muscle helps this 2 year old with Down Syndrome lift her toes in order to step up stairs.

Active exercise using the tape-assisted muscles is important to “re-train” the muscles to function in their new alignment. This helps the child practice using the muscles properly in functional tasks. Parents can maximize progress by building in practice throughout their daily routine, as one application of tape can be left in place for up to 5 days at a time.

Stepping on targets such as soft stepping stones is a fun activity to practice lifting the foot while the tape assists.
Stepping on targets such as soft stepping stones is a fun activity to practice lifting the foot while the tape assists.

Elastic Wraps

Fabric straps that stretch in two directions can be used to help align upper or lower limbs. They are particularly useful to bring the arm or leg toward a neutral position when it is rotated too far inward or outward. A physician and therapist must carefully assess that there is not a structural (bony) reason for the position of the limb prior to using wraps in attempt to change alignment.

Compression Garments
Compression garments, such as those made by Spio and Benik, are flexible articles of clothing that provide deep pressure sensory input as well as assist the wearer to returning the body to a mid-line position.

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Prone without supportive garments—this one-year-old with low muscle tone has difficulty accessing abdominal/gluteal musculature to anchor her pelvis on the floor, resulting in weight pitched forward on her chest and arms and inability to use arms for play.

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Prone with compression garments—improved ability to use abdominal/gluteal musculature to stabilize pelvis to floor allows weight to shift back off of chest and arms. This allows the child to begin to practice shifting her weight to lift one arm to a toy and eventually crawl forward.

Therapeutic tape, wraps and compression garments are helpful adjuncts in therapy and to assist children with alignment that allows them to activate weak musculature throughout their daily routines. Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley therapists are expanding their knowledge of using these beneficial tools through a continuing education course taught by Patricia Martin, PT and Audrey Yasukawa, MOT, OTR/L on September 18 & 19, 2015 at our Villa Park center. For a full list of continuing education courses visit: http://eastersealsdfvr.org/ce.

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