Looking for games for kids with cerebral palsy that can improve motor function?
Although cerebral palsy cannot be cured, the brain can be trained to rewire itself through lots of repetition.
The challenge is getting children to perform the repetitions they need.
Mobility-Boosting Games for Kids with Cerebral Palsy
Children don’t want to keep repeating the same mundane movement.
They want to play and have fun, which is why they need to be engaged and motivated through games.
This article will go over some of the best games for kids with cerebral palsy that will promote neuroplasticity and encourage more movement.
1. Dance Party
Throw a dance party and play songs that have corresponding hand motions or dance moves.
These movements are usually pretty simple and repetitive, which is ideal for children trying to improve motor functions.
It will help your child anticipate, time, and coordinate their movements.
Some examples of songs with hand motions or dance moves include:
- Hokey Pokey
- Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
- Hand Jive
- Cha Cha Slide
- Cupid Shuffle
You can create your own playlist or look them up on YouTube.
2. Hand-Clapping Games
Hand-clapping games are great for promoting motor function.
Most have short, catchy, and easy to learn songs that you sing while playing, which help establish rhythm.
The corresponding hand motions usually involve repetitive:
- Bending and straightening of the elbows
- Accuracy to clap your partner’s hands
- Wrist range of motion
- Opening and closing of the hands
Some games will progressively increase in speed to make them more challenging and engaging.
Some examples of hand-clapping games include:
3. Simon Says
You can play Simon Says to get your child to perform a bunch of physical therapy exercises.
“Simon says, raise your hands in the air.”
“Put your arms down.”
“Simon says, do 10 jumping jacks.”
“Simon says, take 8 sideways steps to the right.”
This usually works best in a group setting where the children are competing against each other.
You can really get creative and practice a wide range of different movements.
4. Flow Ring
Flow rings are an interactive toy that can keep your child distracted for quite a long time.
To keep it going, you have to continuously raise and lower your arms.
You can even use it on your leg!
Make a game out it and challenge your child to keep it going for a certain amount of time or reach a specific number of passes.
Keep track of their records, so that they’ll be motivated to beat their longest streak.
5. Hot Lava
photo via handsonwhilewegrow.com
For this game, you’re going to tape sheets of paper to the floor.
This works best on hard floor surfaces; however, if you have carpeted floors, you can play with felt sheets to avoid the crinkling the paper.
The premise of the game is that you can only step on the sheets of paper and everything else is hot lava.
To make it more challenging, spread the pieces of paper further apart.
To make it easier, create larger safe zones by grouping multiple pieces of paper together.
This game will help your child control where they place their steps and promote balance.
Playing with darts is a fun, challenging way to get your child to practice:
- Gripping onto smaller objects
- Timing when to let go
- Bending and straightening their elbow
- Wrist movements
There are child-friendly versions of darts that help make the game a little less dangerous (no sharp points, magnet-based, velcro ball-based, etc.).
MusicGlove combines gaming, music, and hand therapy together to boost fine motor skills.
The point of the game is to press your fingertips and thumb together as indicated on the screen. The keys on the screen are synced to match the beats in each song.
There are tons of songs to choose from and various difficulty levels so that your child will always be challenged.
8. Create a Secret Handshake
Creating a secret handshake with your child is a great way to get them moving randomly throughout the day.
You can incorporate as many movements as you want. Touch the ground, spin in a circle, anything!
Usually, the longer and more complicated the handshake is, the more willing your child is to repeat it because they want to prove that they remember it.
Having a secret handshake with your child will promote coordination and force your child to really think about their movements.
Creating a secret handshake will require lots of moving around. You practice it as you’re making it up (deciding the order of the motions and experimenting) and after to make sure you’ve memorized it.
Promoting Mobility Through Fun
Traditional exercise can get boring fast, so most children won’t perform the repetitions they need to improve their mobility.
Children love to play, and games can help keep them challenged and entertained enough to continuously repeat movements without even realizing it.
Children’s brains are more plastic than those of adults, meaning that they can adapt more efficiently.
The more they repeat, the better the brain gets at recognizing the movements and the easier they become.
Play these games with your child and see for yourself how engaging and effective they can be. Have fun!