Cystic Fibrosis: Activities for Kids with CF
If your child has cystic fibrosis (CF), one of your main concerns might be which special needs activities are best suited for him in order to complement his cystic fibrosis treatment. Because cystic fibrosis disease can seriously affect your child’s development, and in particular her lungs and pancreas, engaging in interactive special needs activities with your special needs child is essential to ensuring proper development.
Special Needs Activities and Games
There are a variety of interactive activities for special needs children that you can do at home, once your child is old enough.
Physical activity and play are crucial to the development of special needs children as they have a variety of benefits. For example, such activities help to:
- improve heart health
- improve muscle strength
- improve posture
- improve breathing
Fun physical activities suitable for children with cystic fibrosis generally come in the form of of low impact exercises, such as aerobics and stretching. Such low impact exercises are excellent for children with cystic fibrosis, not only because they help build a child’s overall fitness and improve their general health, but they also help to clear the lungs of excess mucus.
Playing on a trampoline is another excellent exercises, as is playing on a space hopper and playing wheelbarrow.
Breathing games are another excellent activity for children with special needs. Such breathing games include:
- blowing bubbles. Teach your child to take a big breath in and then gently exhale through an ‘O’-shaped mouth. Repeat three or four times. As your child’s technique improves, encourage him to take longer and fuller breaths.
- cotton wool balls. Place a cotton wool ball in the palm of your hand and instruct your child to blow gently in order to make the ball fly off your hand. Alternate to see who can make the cotton ball go farthest. Repeat three or four times.
- bubbling water. Place a straw in a glass that is filled halfway with water. Then, instruct your child to blow gently through the straw and make bubbles in the water. Repeat three to four times.
As many children with CF require daily respiratory therapy, such breathing exercises are an essential component of your child’s special needs treatment. However, such exercises should always be regulated by your child’s physiotherapist.
If your child has any trouble with these activities, consult your child’s doctor or physiotherapist.
Cystic Fibrosis Therapy
Another important element of your special needs child’s development is therapy. In addition to drugs, children with cystic fibrosis require comprehensive therapy that includes the following elements:
- physiotherapy. Physiotherapy, and in particular, daily chest therapy is an essential element of cystic fibrosis treatment. Chest therapy should be done for 30 minutes once or twice daily. Chest therapy requires a parent to clap the child on the back an chest in order to help clear mucus buildup in the lungs. This vigorous massage helps to loosen mucus, thereby helping to improve the overall health of your special needs child. Initially taught to parents by hospital staff, once your child is older, he can learn to do this therapy on his own. A physiotherapist also plays a key role in instructing appropriate breathing exercises for your child’s age and ability, as well developing physical activity programs for children with CF.
- asthmatherapy. Asthamatherapy is another important component of CF treatment. This type of CF treatment is centered on the use of an inhaler. One recent development in asthmatherapy was the creation of an inhalable saltwater aerosol solution that helps to suck out excess mucus from the lung tissues onto the surface.
Schooling Your Special Needs Child
Generally, children with cystic fibrosis can be sent to a regular school. However, in cases of more severe forms of cystic fibrosis, parents might consider home-schooling their child when lengthy hospital visits might affect a child’s ability to keep up with school.
However, regular schooling is becoming an increasingly attractive option even for children with more serious forms of CF. This is because more and more hospitals now have certified teachers that work together with a child’s school to make the transition between school and hospital a smooth one, as well as to work with special needs children in order to keep them up to date on their curriculum requirements.
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