Monday, March 22, 2010

The Baby Bamboo - it's for you!

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.


  1. What a great post. So informative. I knew that crawling was important but have never seen it so well explained as you do here. It makes me very grateful that we worked on crawling with Ben and that he now does it so well.

    LOVE the videos of Hannah. What a sweet little girl and it really seems that The Baby Bamboo has certainly helped her out.

    It was also nice (for me) to see video of a kid with hemiplegia. Ben is diplegic so we don't deal with the hand / arm issues that you do. So I found it interesting to see how it affects her movements (both gross motor and fine motor).

  2. First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! She looks great!

    Secondly, I understand. Captain Chaos learned to do things that she needed to do (sit up, crawl, etc.) but because she did not do those things in the typical fashion of the average child her ability to learn to eat (and ultimately lose the feeding tube in her abdomen) was delayed. The Captain adapted to her stroke related developmental deficiencies wonderfully, but her adaptations hindered her development in other areas. We spent months working with her on an exercise ball, loosening her stiff upper body and helping her develop a strong, fluid side-to-side motion before she could learn to manipulate her tongue side-to-side and effectively move food around her mouth. Simultaneously, we were identifying foods that were strong enough in flavor to penetrate her taste buds, which had also been affected by her stroke. Hot, spicy Mexican and Thai food along with gobs of PT, much of it on an exercise ball, and she was on her way.

    Thirdly, whatever works! Hannah’s crawling with the brace is fantastic!

    Way to go!

  3. It was a glorious time when my daughter began to crawl too, not only for mobility but simply for developing her right arm/hand muscles by bearing weight that the crawl provided. This is huge for Hannah! She moves fabulously and seems to be doing quite well. I love to see it! Have you considered Constraint Therapy when she a bit older to continue growth and progess of that arm?

  4. Wow, Hannah looks AWESOME! You're doing such a great job with her.
    I wish we had had the Bamboo for Monkey when he was younger. Monkey did learn to crawl on all fours and with a reciprocal pattern before he learned to walk. His therapists also wanted him to crawl first, but they said it wouldn't be the end of the world if he didn't. I really think it did wonders for his "rewiring." Once he started crawling on all fours, we saw a lot of improvement in his arm and a huge developmental explosion. At the ripe old age of five, he has great handwriting (with his uninvolved hand, of course), is as sharp as a tack (if I do say so myself - although that might be due to good genes! =) and his involved arm and hand have recovered significantly. I'm not sure if such skills can be attributed to his crawling, but I certainly don't think it hurt.
    Again, keep up the great work - Hannah is amazing!

  5. Congratulations to Hannah! That's wonderful.

    We've had different types of braces for our son, but I've not seen the one that helped her before. . We were really encouraged to get our boy crawling for the same reasons you pointed out - symmetry. That's wonderful that you got such good results out of the therapy. Congrats!

  6. Hannah is adorable! I am glad to hear that the Bamboo Brace worked for her. I have an 83 year old patient with CP and she wears a wrist brace which does wonders to her ability to stand as well as write.