Summer is finally here! From cooling off to just having fun splashing around in the water, summer is the season for swimming! So, what better time is there to talk about one of the many benefits of swimming with a neck ring? One of the most important benefits that WaterWayBabies can provide is holding children upright in water with a neck ring when placed into a pool versus a bathtub. Being upright is a tremendous advantage, especially for children with neuromuscular disorders, given that water releases the burden of gravity and allows the child to move around freely. Cyclic arm and leg movements in the water mimic crawling or walking. The child can also rotate 360 degrees in water, strengthening the neck and trunk. Both of these things can create “waves” of progress towards having more upright mobility out of the water.
The human body is designed to be upright. Being upright allows significant psychosocial benefits to children and their parents, including:
- Increased independence & self-image
- Being able to practice standing
- Enhanced social development & interactions with peers – ‘eye to eye contact’
- Participate in activities that are meant to do standing up
- Encouraged inclusion in group swim activities
Clearly, being upright is a motor milestone that goes beyond physical limitations.
Other alternative techniques that attempt to help a child with neuromuscular disabilities stand upright typically skip levels of development, which limits their success. An example would be putting a non-walking child into a stander prior to that child going through crawling and creeping stages of development. Skipping these steps will make a very weak foundation for higher brain level function. The plasticity of the human brain means that specific simulations, such as being upright in water, can change the function and structure of the brain. However, these stimulations need to be given with proper frequency, intensity, and duration. This is precisely why WaterWayBabies recommends using a neck ring while upright in water on a daily basis in order to “water” and nourish the roots of a strong foundation in a child’s physical development.
Given that the body must be in a body of water bigger than a bathtub in order to be in an upright position, it is highly recommended that the neck ring should be used in a pool of some sort. For infants and children up to about 3-5 years of age (depending on size), parents may opt to buy the WaterWayBabies pool along with the neck ring. It sits 30 inches tall and is 30 inches across, allowing for the necessary depth for the child to be upright. In addition, the bright green color of the pool stimulates the child’s vision. Water toys may be placed within reach or mirrors hung on the side of the pool. Soft music or gentle singing also adds to the fun and creates a multi-sensorial experience. For those who are older and/or larger in size, there are other options, such as installing a home therapy pool or checking out aquatic centers that are close by.
Well, that’s all for now and I hope you learned something new! Have a great summer!