Tag Archives: grasp patterns

Cinnamon-Scented Ornaments

by Alyssa Brief MS, OTR/L & Rachel Rosenblum MS OTR/L

Occupational Therapy activities can multiple therapeutic benefits…in addition to being fun! Below is wonderful activity that is sure to be a hit!

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Materials:

  1. 3/4 cup Applesauce
  2. 2 bottles of ground cinnamon (2.37 oz each)
  3. Parchment paper
  4. Ribbon or yarn
  5. Cookie cutters
  6. Toothpick

Directions:

Mix applesauce and cinnamon into a mixing bowl, stirring or kneading until material reaches dough consistency. Scoop out a handful of dough and place onto parchment paper on flat surface. Place another sheet of parchment paper over dough and flatten until dough is about 1/4″ thick. Peel top sheet off of dough and stamp cookie cutter into dough, peeling away the excess dough around the border. Use a toothpick to make a hole in dough towards top of ornament. Depending on thickness of dough, ornament will need at least 24 hours to dry into hardened ornament. Once dry, thread ribbon through the hole and tie a double knot at desired length.

Sensory benefits of activity: Using the spice of cinnamon stimulates the olfactory sense, or sense of smell. Kneading and flattening the dough provides tactile input through the sense of touch. It also provides opportunity to explore and discuss the texture if it feels sticky, smooth, wet, mushy, etc. Interacting with the dough provides a sensory-rich play experience.

Motor benefits of activity: Pouring in the ingredients works on using graded movements, or knowing how much force is needed to complete a task, to avoid spilling. Kneading and flattening the dough promotes fine motor hand and finger strengthening. Mixing the dough and stamping cookie cutters provide opportunities to use a variety of grasp patterns during functional tool use. Stabilizing the mixing bowl with one hand while stirring with the other encourages bilateral coordination, or using both hands to complete a task.

Cognitive benefits of activity: This activity requires completing steps in a certain order, or a sequence, in order to be complete. This can promote understanding of how a task can be completed start to finish, and can reinforce the concept of “first ___, then ____” while having fun!

Self-Care benefits of activity: A hand-washing routine can be incorporated in this activity such as before and after to work on this skill. Also the clean-up process provides an opportunity to practice cleaning up after oneself such as wiping the table or making a trip to the garbage.

Hope you enjoy!

OT Awareness

by Anna Lassman

April was OT awareness month, and as usual our Occupational Therapy department in the Philadelphia division likes to not only promote the profession, but share some practical knowledge with staff. This year we decided to piggy back on our Early Intervention (EI) Center staff celebration with an activity for staff that earned them a chance to win one of 2 gift baskets.

One of the important foundational skills for hand function is tactile perception. Stereognosis is a unique skill of tactile perception. It is the ability to identify objects through touch. When a person handles a material, he or she sends touch signals to the brain, and the brain identifies the object. It is important for overall hand function and developing grasp patterns, as well as dexterity and ability to use materials. A person would explore the shape with their palm and fingers, and then use their memory of what things feel like. For example rough/smooth/ sharp or rounded edges, depth, weight, etc. In other words, what are the properties we may be looking for as we explore objects without hearing or vision assist?

In our game, staff were shown a card with 6 different 2D shapes, and asked to put their hand into a large box and match 1 object hidden in there. On an interesting side note, a number of staff was very hesitant to put their hand into a box when they couldn’t see what was in there, needing assurances that we were not trying to trick them.

This is a skill we use so often and are unaware of how many systems we are using to be successful. When I am driving and trying to find my chap stick in my purse compartment where I have other lipsticks as well as other wayward items, I think about this. Touching a counter top with crumbs or sticky substances, finding your keys in your pocket, anything that is identified without the benefit of other senses (hearing, vision) are examples of how we use this skill in our everyday life.

Anna Lassman has been an OT for 35 years, working in a variety of pediatric settings in New York, California and, for the past 18 years, in Pennsylvania. She has been with Easter Seals in the Philadelphia Division as the OT department head for 7 years. She has special interests working with infants and young children with feeding difficulties as well as working with children with neurological impairment. Her favorite aspect of her current job is the ability to mentor new practicing OT’s as they begin their career in the field. Anna loves the ocean and misses easy beach access, but loves the Philadelphia area.