To be or not to be? To crawl or not to crawl? Clearly there are people on both sides of this issue, for typically developing kids and for those with movement issues due to medical conditions. My key PT wanted very much for Hannah to crawl, but reassured me that should she not do it, we could get those skills back when we worked with her PT plans outside at the park. However, he wanted her crawling if we could get it. The other PT with whom we work, and whom Hannah actually loves, didn't care whether she crawled or not, he just wanted her moving in order to not impact cognitive development. Parents of typically developing children may struggle with the same dilemma - studies indicate that some kids who don't crawl before walking or who do so for short time frames may have lower cognitive skills or less developed gross motor skills later on, while other studies reach opposite conclusions and suggest that crawling is simply not necessary.
I told myself it wouldn't matter if we couldn't get it, since Hannah was adept at butt scooting to such a degree I doubted her cognitive skills would suffer as a result, but we kept trying. Hearing from the therapists on both points of view, I thought of all the ways a lack of symmetry has affected me in my own health. My neck injury, as a result of car accident, is not symmetrical, and contributes to pain. When my left knee acts up and I have to shift weight differently, my whole body gets weird. I think I can begin to understand how adults with CP have pain as a result of straining against misalignment in the spine and joints caused by weight shifting that is too far from symmetrical. As humans we will never be perfect, but being too far off the symmetrical mark seems clearly detrimental. As I understand, as a parent of this particular child, it is clear that crawling develops muscle strength and would improve coordination in simultaneous movement with both sides of the body, and it will transfer to how her walk will feel and look later. Research indicates movement from crawling creates or increases myelin in the brain, allowing faster neuronal communication. Crawling is thought to stimulate integration between the hemispheres of the brain. Basically, if you can get it, it is just damn good for you, especially when you are not starting out with a typically developing child.
And so, I told my PT that Hannah would be happy to be his model for promotional info on the brace he has manufactured and will now market for this purpose. We agreed to let videos of Hannah be distributed and so, the real purpose of this post becomes clear: go to YouTube and see two videos of Hannah using the "Bamboo brace" and view the results.
YouTube - Hannah Learns to Crawl With The Bamboo Brace
YouTube - How The Bamboo Brace Helps During Play
I also have later videos of Hannah free range crawling about the house, which I am sure I will post ad nauseum as I am so proud of her achievements. As you view the YouTube videos, please ignore me. I am allowing these unflattering views in the interest of benefiting others. It is for the children, people, for the children. Won't someone think of the children?
So what did the Bamboo do for my daughter? Early on we just wanted to break that bent arm pattern so common for kids like her, and breaking the pattern in the arm meant rewiring her brain, and strengthening muscles in her shoulder, trunk and back. My OT said it could be bad to limit any movement that wasn't necessary but now that OT and the orthopedic surgeon say you just don't see hemi kids with that kind of range of motion in their shoulders and upper trunk. So it helped us get to independent sitting, it helped us pull up to stand, it helped us learn to crawl, and it doesn't interfere with fine motor skills since she doesn't do much with that yet anyway. As far as I can tell, it helped rewire her brain to make new patterns that don't involve a perpetually bent elbow pulling her shoulder out of normal range, and its presence made her move her arm differently and build strength and range in the upper arm, pecs, and traps.
Would I recommend it for your child? Absolutely and without hesitation. Would I recommend your therapist talk to my PT and see if it might be a fit? You bet. If you find this post far out in the future, should you still email me for a personal private testimonial? Yup. Will I let my baby be studied for peer review evaluations of the technique and who it should be used for. Yes, yes, yes.
Do I feel lucky, on behalf of my dear daughter, yes, yes, yes. Would I have ever allowed my image to be used on YouTube in this manner if I wasn't a true believer in the technique and the product? Longtime readers will note I had only twice allowed long shot distance pictures of myself on this blog. It is for the children, people.
For the FTC, did I get anything for this product review? As beta-testers of the Bamboo in development, we received the early version and final products for free. But I would have paid, because it is full of the awesome. My baby actually brings it to me and holds out her arm to have it put on.
The Baby Bamboo - its for you! Really.