Upper Body Strength

Increases independence in self care at home and fine motor success at school

Low muscle tone, and poor coordination tend to be a problem for many children who have Sensory Processing Dysfunction and may result in
weak upper body strength.  This impacts the muscles of the neck needed to hold the head in a centered position so that the eye muscles can work properly.  When the head is stabilized, muscle synergy promotes coordination of the  muscles that move the eyes and enhances the skills needed for effectiveness of key visual perceptual skills.

Student with poor upper body strength bent over a desk looking closely at hands while trying to complete an activity
Student with poor upper body strength leaning to the right while trying to complete a craft activity

Stregthening the upper body promotes muscle control for sitting straight and holding the head erect.  This also frees both hands to engage in self care activities and to manipulate and learn from classroom materials.

Student tracing a paper plate

Poor upper body strength tends to have a domino effect upon  acquisition of fine motor skills.  When either hand is consistently  involved in propping up the body, that arm and hand become trapped and limited in their ability to learn about jobs  that require use of both hands.  Sometimes either hand is often used to stabilize the trunk by pushing against the table, once again that arm and hand become trapped.   If the trunk consistently twists during handwriting tasks, the muscles that move the eyes fail to capture a centered layout of the task at hand and visual perceptual skills are compromised.

Student completing a puzzle using a "grabber" to manipulate the materials

Incorporating Heavy Work for Better Upper Body Strength

Student laying prone on scooter while pushing a basket of inflated balloons

Incorporating heavy work activities such as ball walk outs, crab walks, and push ups on a daily basis, gradually build strong muscles that can sustain holding the trunk and head erect.  These motor skills can  contribute to greater independence and success at  both home and school by, positioning the body, freeing the hands and  organizing the eyes for centered work.


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