Swinging with Physical Therapy

In almost every physical and occupational therapy gym, you will see a giant hook in the ceiling with mats laying below. Attached to that hook could be a large, flat platform to sit or stand on, a hammock to sway in, or maybe a big tube that looks like a horse you could ride. Other times, you may see a disc swing to sit and spin on or even a playground swing! Occupational therapists use a swing for many reasons but physical therapists can too! Below, I will list a few ways a child can use a platform swing during a physical therapy visit.

  1. A child can sit criss-cross applesauce and place their hands in their lap. This position engages their abdominal muscles while swinging in different directions and helps their body react to different balance challenges.
  2. A child can be in a tall kneeling position (with knees and toes on platform, but their bottom is not touching their feet) or half kneeling position (one knee and toe is on the platform, but the other leg is in front with their foot flat on the platform). These positions also work on core strength and balance! These positions are harder than just sitting on the swing.
  3. A child can be in a crawling position with hands and knees on the platform. With the swing still, the child can work on raising one arm or one leg at a time to work on core strength. To make it more challenging, they can raise their right arm and left leg at the same time- then switch!
  4. A child can sit at the edge of the swing holding onto the ropes, then use their feet to push off of the wall to swing. This works on core strength AND leg strength.
  5. A child can lay on their stomach and use their arms to pull themselves in different directions to reach toys. This exercise works on arm strength.
  6. A child can lay on their back with arms and legs raised straight above them while the therapist pushes them in various directions. It takes a lot of core strength and a decent amount of endurance to hold this position, and it usually gets some giggles too.

Of course, this is just scratching the surface of what you can do with a swing! Are there any I missed? Please share your ideas!

-Cheyenne Allen, PT, DPT