Child dresses up like an astronaut and walks in

Learning through play

Children learn through play: colors, shapes, turn taking, developing logic and communicating with others.

Play also helps children through rehabilitation. At Spartanburg Regional Pediatric Rehabilitation Services, play is incorporated into occupational, speech and physical therapy.

“Play is important. In the adult world, you can tell a person to do 10 reps in therapy to get them better and back to their job,” said Sarah Callahan, pediatric physical therapist. “For kids, their job is play. If we can turn games into a function, kids don’t see it as therapy, they see it as fun.”

To make therapy even more fun for their patients, Spartanburg Regional Pediatric Rehab created summer theme weeks, which started at the beginning of June and ends before school starts. There is a new theme every two weeks with games and activities to match. 

“During Space Week, patients walked with moon shoes to work on balance and coordination,” Callahan said. “We had a space shuttle repair station where they wore gloves and had to repair the spaceship with screws to work on fine motor skills.”

This is the second year Pediatric Rehab held the summer theme weeks for patients. Callahan and occupational therapist Rebecca Carver developed the idea in 2017 to help children reach their therapy goals by incorporating more fun and games into sessions.

“The kids come dressed in costume or in character for each theme,” said Sharon Caston, manager of Pediatric Rehab. “The therapists create each activity to target physical, occupational and speech therapy skills.” “These theme weeks have become very popular among patients, parents and staff.”

This year, camp themes include space, waterworks, outdoor games, tastes around the world, the wild west, and pirates.

“Play encourages exploration, problem-solving, and making relationships between objects, things or concepts,” Carver said. “It also develops strength and coordination, encourages social engagement, exposes children to words/sounds, and supports emotional well-being.” 

Here are some ways rehabilitation is turned into play at this year’s summer camp:

Space shuttle repair

Occupational therapy: Fine motor control, bilateral coordination, visual motor integration, and motor planning

Physical therapy: Standing balance, balance on unstable surface

Speech therapy: Color identification, vocabulary and direction following

Alphabet ping-pong fishing

Occupational therapy: Fine motor coordination, sequencing, tactile sensory play, and visual scanning

Physical therapy: Standing balance and single leg stance

Speech therapy: Letter recognition, counting, direction following, quantitative concepts, and rhyming words

Sidewalk chalk drawing

Occupational therapy: Sequencing, motor planning, visual motor integration, coordination and direction following

Physical therapy: Jumping, ambulation, coordination and motor planning

Speech therapy: Sequencing, direction following and retelling

Chopstick race with marshmallows

Occupational therapy: Fine motor control, hand/finger strengthening, and visual motor integration

Physical therapy: Ambulation, squat to floor and stand back up, and dual tasks

Speech therapy: Following directions and quantitative concepts

Horse obstacle race

Occupational therapy: Bilateral coordination, tactile sensory, direction following, and motor planning

Physical therapy: Strengthening, motor planning, and agility

Speech therapy: Following directions, comparative adjectives, prepositions and spatial concepts

Treasure hunt with clues

Occupational therapy: Direction following, geographical orientation, visual motor integration, and sequencing

Physical therapy: Ambulation, skipping/galloping, strengthening, jumping jacks

Speech therapy: Making inferences, identifying described objects, answering “wh” questions

Speech therapy for all activities: imitating speech and functional spontaneous language

Does your child have developmental delays? Call 864-560-6480 to see if pediatric rehabilitation can help.