Body Weight Supported Treadmill Training….. what is it? It is using an assistive device to help support a child's body weight so when they are trying to learn how to take steps on a treadmill, they can focus on just one thing, their legs. It absorbs some of the effects of gravity, decreasing the difficulty of moving as well as taking away the fear of falling. Because of this, they can put all their energy and focus into what they are trying to learn - the motor plan for walking. Walking is a very complex activity that most of us take for granted. We don’t have to tell our legs what to do, they have learned through reputation and practice what they need to do so we can go on autopilot so to speak. A child who has motor milestone delays may not be getting the repetition or practice they need to get to that autopilot place. Add high tone (such the tightness typically seen with Cerebral Palsy) or low tone (excessive flexibility typically seen with Down Syndrome) and that repetition becomes even more important and harder to get. Research has found this type of intervention beneficial and often times kids find it fun to get to use a treadmill. Especially since at Kidz we use fun music, beats, toys, and technology to help motivate movement during this activity.
Kidz Physical Therapy currently has several options for Body Weight Supported Treadmill Training. The KidWalk, shown in the picture) uses a belt that clips onto over head supports to allow as much or as little weight bearing as needed to be successful. This allows the PT’s hands to help move legs to achieve heel strike, and push off, to protect joints and achieve alignment, as well as to motivate stepping with clapping or fun activities. It also allows a hands off way to allow a child to play around with the muscle activation needed for walking at varying speeds or inclines safely. Rifton gait trainers at all sizes (xsmall, small, medium, and large- will be highlighted in a future post) are also available if the child requires more trunk support than what the KidWalk has to offer.
Contact Kidz Physical Therapy if you are wondering if Body Weight Supported Treadmill Training could be a part of your child’s summer camp with Kidz Physical Therapy.