Home Health Care Try These 3 Engaging Activities for Children With Acquired Brain Injury

Try These 3 Engaging Activities for Children With Acquired Brain Injury

by Shayne Kimble
cute little girl playing on old piano

As a speech-language pathologist who has practiced for a few years now, I realize that I need to be a little more selfish. I think to myself, “What helps me be the best SLP I can be?” The answer for me involves a full stomach and choosing treatment tasks to create a fun session for my patients and me. Working primarily with children with acquired brain injury at a pediatric rehabilitation hospital, I constantly think of new ways to target functional skills for this population.

I find three tasks particularly suited for targeting skills with these kids, while also providing a fun and interactive time for us both.

Planning a party: Who doesn’t love a party? My parties typically occur for no reason other than I really want to eat cake and ice cream. Planning a party targets many components of executive functioning, such as time management, planning and organization. I usually complete this activity with a patient over multiple days, or even a couple of weeks. We start by designing the party and listing the needs. We then move to making invitations, creating decorations and setting up the party. Finally, we greet guests and make conversation with other party-goers. These tasks each involve multiple steps to follow, and patients enjoy the responsibility of making decisions.

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Playing piano: I always incorporate the process of learning new information/skills into sessions for my patients with brain injuries. Playing piano is an effective way to teach skills via an enjoyable activity. I typically label a number of keys on the piano by note to work on sequencing and memory by recalling notes for various beginner songs. This activity targets organizational skills and immediate/short-term memory while learning a new skill.

Building Lego sets: This popular activity targets following visual directions and self-monitoring, as we follow picture instructions to construct various Lego items. This activity allows the child to compare two pictures to find the new additions, plan what pieces get used next, and allows the child to problem-solve if a block is placed incorrectly. They also must independently follow visual directions.

My primary goals in treating children with acquired brain injuries involve addressing the needs of my patients and choosing tasks that target a wide array of skills. Adapting skills to target attention, impulse control and attention to detail is key to helping my patients to reach their goals.

What are you doing in your sessions to mix things up? Please share in the comment section below.

Shayne Kimble, MA, CCC-SLP, is the primary SLP in the inpatient rehabilitation unit at Shriner’s Hospital for Children-Houston. His current interests are dysphagia and brain injury in children.  SAKimble@shrinenet.org

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1 comment

Becky Mitchum, MS, CCC-SLP December 1, 2017 - 7:03 am

I’m a pediatric SLP at a post acute TBI inpatient rehab facility. I’m a former professional violinist of 25 years, new to being a SLP only since getting my CCC in 2015. I am not as proficient on piano as violin, but your comments on using piano in therapy really excites me. We have a piano on site I want to start using! I have a dream of starting a violin program at my facility – not to teach violin but to use Suzuki principles in a way that makes learning the violin a cognitive task to undergird other objectives… like you were saying with piano. Crossing midline, posture, sequencing, attention, memory, dissociation, etc… So Shayne, do you know of any place that is doing this already so I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel? And do you have any feedback or helpful suggestions? Thank you for your great ideas. I’m feeling very inspired.

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