Hesperian Health Guides

'Floating-in-air' Devices for Relaxing and Moving Painful Joints

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HealthWiki > Disabled Village Children > Chapter 16: Juvenile Arthritis: Chronic Arthritis in Children > 'Floating-in-air' Devices for Relaxing and Moving Painful Joints


The best way for relaxing and reducing weight lo exercise arthritic joints is to float in warm water. When this is not possible, after applying hot soaks, the leg or arm can be hung in a simple device—loosely, as if floating in water.

‘FLOATING’ AN ARTHRITIC LEG

a child in a hanging device
pillows, sponge rubber, or soft material
rubber inner tube or a spring
Adjust the position of the supports so the leg hangs in the best position for moving it easily in all directions.
It helps to wrap the foot in a figure 8.
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DVC Ch16 Page 145-3.png

After hanging the limb, wait until the child relaxes, then have him swing it gently this way and that.

Let the leg move with its own weight as in a swing. Increase the swinging until the knee and hip bend and straighten completely (or as much as possible).

Look for ways to turn the exercise into a game.

For example, the child might knock gourds or blocks down while another child tries quickly to set them up again, and see who wins.

DVC Ch16 Page 145-4.png

The gourds can be put farther and farther away so that he has to stretch more each time to knock them down. When his leg is most stretched, ask him to hold it that way a moment before letting it bend.

Also have the child do exercises lying on his back and swinging his leg outward (to one side). This helps prevent knock-knee contractures.
boy talks to an exercising child
I bet you can't touch my finger!
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The child can also swing her leg while sitting or lying on a table edge. Encourage her to swing the leg as far up and back as possible. Turn it into a game.


A device like this helps strengthen the muscles that straighten the knee. This way works better than a weight tied to the ankle because the pull continues even when the knee is bent.
someone talks to an exercising child
Let's see if you can ring the bell.
pulley
Put stones or pieces of metal in an old can. Use only as much weight as will let the child straighten her knee completely. As the leg becomes stronger, add more weight.


Movement of the arms. This is done much like the legs:

LYING FACE UP LYING ON THE SIDE
child exercises while lying up
Swing the arm away from the body.
child exercises while lying on the side
Swing the arm forward and back.
These movements can be done keeping the hot soaks on the arm.
AND SITTING
child exercises while sitting
Swing the shoulder and elbow through their full range of motion.
Encourage the child to move her limb in a rhythmic manner— perhaps to music. Try to help her forget the pain. If she becomes interested in something else—a game or the music—this will help reduce the tightness of her muscles.

Look for ways to do these movements as part of daily activities.




This page was updated:19 Jan 2018