Hesperian Health Guides
Chapter 42: Range-of-Motion and Other Exercises
|As much as possible, disabled children should get their exercise in ways that are useful and fun!|
All children need exercise to keep their bodies strong, flexible, and healthy. Most village children get all the exercise they need through ordinary daily activity: crawling, walking, running, climbing, playing games, lifting things, carrying the baby, and helping with work in the house and farm.
As much as is possible, disabled children should get their exercise in these same ways. However, sometimes a child’s disability does not let him use or move his body, or parts of it, well enough to get the exercise he needs. Muscles that are not used regularly grow weak. Joints that are not moved through their full range of motion get stiff and can no longer be completely straightened or bent (see Chapter 8 on contractures). So we need to make sure that the disabled child uses and keeps strong whatever muscles he has, and that he moves all the parts of his body through their full range of motion. Sometimes a child may need help with these exercises. But as much as possible, he should be encouraged to do them himself, in ways that are useful and fun.