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Physical education and sport

With a little care and pre-planning on your part, PE can be as enjoyable and challenging for children with hemiplegia as for their classmates. Moreover, PE can play an important role in helping children with hemiplegia increase their dexterity and range of movement, and improve their balance and spatial / perceptual abilities.

Ball-handling skills

Problems:

  • throwing and catching movements
  • gripping and releasing the ball
  • poor hand-eye co-ordination

Suggestions:

  • try different sizes of ball
  • use beanbags (easier to catch)
  • foam balls, or balls with a textured surface, may help gripping and releasing skills
  • grips are available to help hold bats and racquets
  • it is easier to catch a ball which is bounced rather than thrown
  • it is easier to hit a stationary ball than a moving one

Balance

Problems:

  • poor balance
  • poor weight-bearing on weaker side
  • bad posture

Suggestions:

  • include plenty of activities to improve balance and weight bearing (whilst not forgetting considerations of safety)
  • make sure the child adopts the correct starting position for any activity, whether standing, sitting or lying.

Other considerations

  • Be supportive: physical differences are most obvious here - it can be very demoralising always to finish last and be picked last. In group activities, the child may find it easier to function in a smaller group.
  • be flexible: try allowing head starts, or developing underarm serving techniques
  • be imaginative: encourage the child to try new sports e.g. fencing, sailing, contact sports
  • be patient: allow more time for activities, and also for undressing / dressing. Remember that the child has to expend more energy than his or her classmates to achieve the same goals, and many tire easily.

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