The environment at Butterfly is described as being calm, fresh and relaxing by parents, but kids get big eyed when they go through the door. There’s room to crawl and climb, and activities for all developmental levels. But it’s not all about fun for the kids and relaxation for the parents – it’s far from an indoor playground. Most importantly, the environment is planned, therapeutic, and motivating.
- First there are the wooden boxes, beams, and boards. These are part of a specific type of exercises – Cuevas Medek Exercises, or CME. Therapists use these exercises to provoke motor responses and enhance a child’s current neuro-muscular response. CME may be appropriate for a variety of children, from babies working on head control, to older children working on higher level balance skills.
- The treadmill is truly unique in that it can travel at speeds as low as 0.1 miles per hour. Butterfly is equipped with a “Walkable” or “Lite Gait” that straddles the narrow treadmill offering hand rails for the kids to hold as well as a complete harness system to allow for partial weight bearing. In the harness, a therapist is able to facilitate steps of proper cadence and stride length. Research supports the use of a treadmill for kids not yet walking to promote patterning in the brain, repetition and partial weight bearing. Higher functioning children can work on endurance, functional gait, speed of walking, and balance.
- The rock climbing wall is fun, challenging, and incredibly motivating. For therapists, this works the kids’ muscles in a challenging position, different from the typical posture many kids have on a daily basis. This is great for strengthening muscles through a full range of motion, motor planning, fitness, and upper body strength.
- Balls and bolsters of different sizes and colours are used to work on core stability, muscle stretches and strengthening, and balance reactions. Having a strong core affects both gross motor and fine motor activities, as it gives a solid base off of which our other muscles must work.
- The complex ladder structure, with rope ladder, zipline, and swing combines many therapeutic functions. This is good for strengthening upper and lower body, motor planning, sensory experiences, and core stability. Functionally this translates into using and exercising the muscles needed for playing in the playground, climbing stairs, and having better balance on different surfaces.
The variety of equipment at Butterfly is fun and motivating for the kids, while being functional and therapeutic for the therapists . Children don’t realize the demands being placed on them during therapy making Butterfly a unique and enjoyable experience for families looking to promote gross and fine motor development in their children. Michelle Hand and Keiri Porter are trained in Cuevas Medek Exercise (CME), Neurodevelopmental Training (NDT), and functional strength training and are excited to bring these elements into their environment.
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