It's often hard to motivate youngsters with physical disabilities. But a new approach from a Tel Aviv University researcher bridges the worlds of behavior and science to help kids with paralysis and motor dysfunction improve their physical skills and inner confidence -- using a trick up her sleeve called "magic."
Dr. Dido Green of Tel Aviv University's School of Health Professionals developed an innovative yet remarkably simple series of therapeutic exercises for children and young adults based on sleight-of-hand tricks used by professional magicians. Dr. Green and her magicians used sponge balls, elastics and paper clips to teach the children how to perform the challenging, fun and engaging exercises.
She started her foundational research at the Evelina Children's Hospital funded by the Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospital Charity, Performing Arts Programme in London.
Making physical therapy fun
"Children with motor disorders like hemiplegia -- or paralysis on one side of the body -- perform routine exercises with their hands and wrists to be able to carry out basic functions such as opening a door, doing up their zipper, or closing buttons," explains Dr. Green, an occupational therapist with a masters degree in clinical neuroscience and a Ph.D. in psychomotor development of children. "Not only did the kids get a kick out of the magic tricks, they loved doing the exercises every day."
Dr. Green hopes to create summer "magic camps" for disabled children in both the U.K. and Israel, and will further investigate the benefits of magic for improving motor development of children with disabilities.
Her initial research, now in the process of publication in a peer-reviewed journal, looked at a sample of nine children. "We had a hunch that learning magic tricks could do wonders for kids' movement problems, but we wanted to see if the kids would actually practice them," says Dr. Green.
The children pract
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University