Tag Archives: therapy

Cartoon It! used in Occupational Therapy in Puerto Rico

An Occupational Therapist in Puerto Rico recently shared this great feedback on using Cartoon It! with her patients!

Cartoon It therapy Cartoon It! used in Occupational Therapy in Puerto Rico

Sonia reports:

I work as a certified occupational therapy assistant with kids 6, 7, and 12 years old. They loved Cartoon It! I recommend this for children with problems with visual motor integration and with form constancy, although it helps with visual discrimination and visual memory too.

To make it easier since it was their first time, they were allowed to note on the paper the number of the characteristic so they could copy it directly from the board. At first, my patients did some badly arranged drawings. We discussed the problems we were having with the cartoons and how we can make it better. Actually, a kid made a head so small, he had to make the face outside the head.

It’s part of the therapy process to make mistakes and fix them. As the kids continued making the cartoons, the quality escalated to the ones I’m showing you. They can see their progress in the same therapy, so they loved it so much. Hopefully, their writing will become better than before, with the help of your game.

In a 45 minute therapy session, they could do 4-7 cartoons, including giving the instructions and showing the drawings to their friends. Thanks for this awesome game -my patients loved it!

Have you used any games in therapy sessions? I’d love to hear your experiences – which games were used and the skills they targeted!

Reversing Effects of Brain Damage through Game Play

A truly unbelievable email arrived in the ThinkFun inbox the other day. Liane suffered extensive brain damage, was even declared dead at one point, and had to relearn to speak and walk. Here she shares how a simple game played a vital role in her incredible recovery – grab a Kleenex before you dive into this one!

 

To Whom It May Concern:

I was misdiagnosed by a doctor as having Dystonia in 2005. This is similar to Parkinson’s. I was put on Parkinson’s meds when I was not even ill. As a result the meds killed me. I was dead long enough to be declared dead. I sustained extensive Brain Damage because I was gone too long. I eventually woke up, but I had terrible Brain Damage.

I had to relearn my vocabulary by reading the Dictionary and Thesaurus. I had to go to Physical Therapy to learn how to walk again. I had to learn how to speak again. My hand strength was low and I had to only interact with things I could easily grip with a loose hand grip and not drop as my hand strength was weak.

I read on the Internet that if you stimulate the brain, it will grow new Neural Paths and Dendrites around the dread brain cells. You can never grow or create new brain cells. You can never repair dead or damaged brain cells. BUT you can stimulate the brain AND the brain will respond by reaching out to grow around the dead around those dead areas and make those connections again. It took me two years of brain stimulation for my brain tests at UCLA to register as 0% Brain Damage. It does work.

Shape 5941 HiResSpill 300x300 Reversing Effects of Brain Damage through Game Play
I used your product Shape by Shape as part of my daily regimen I had in place to help me recover. I did the puzzles every day to stimulate my brain and bring it back. I did other things too, but the puzzle was a part of my daily routine to help me recover.

I showed the puzzle to my doctors to UCLA. They were surprised that I thought to use it for recovery, but they said it makes sense that it helped me. I recommend it to people who have had a stroke, neurological damage or some sort of brain damage. My brain damage was due to oxygen deprivation as my heart and lungs stopped and I was declared dead.

I wanted to let you know about the expanded use of your product so you can promote them to doctors, hospitals, clinics, charities, support groups, etc. that are involved with stroke victims, neurological illnesses, oxygen deprivation brain damage (swimming pool accidents, drowning accidents, accidental drug overdose, etc.).

Your puzzles also have value to fight off Alzheimer’s Disease. It is vital we do new things, learn new tasks, keep our brain engages, keep our brain learning, exercise our brain throughout our life in order to keep back the tide of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The large pieces make it easy to pick up and hold them when you have weak hand strength and lack dexterity as an elderly person, a stroke victim or a brain damage patient in recovery. The large 3D pieces help with the work on hand eye coordination that must be done in recovery. This is an advantage over a video game. A video game does not challenge me for hand eye coordination, hand strength or dexterity the way an actual puzzle does. The physical puzzle has more value.

I just wanted to let you know there are more uses for your products than you ever suspected. Please expand your marketing to included patients. Other people can benefit past me. I just happened to see your puzzle in Barnes and Noble. I picked it up out of desperation to find a way to heal my brain. I didn’t know if it would work, but it did work.

The doctors told me, “You will walk with a cane the rest of your life.” I do not walk with a cane anymore, and I don’t fall over anymore. I was told, “You will never have clear speech.” Today, I speak just fine. I can speak and my voice is clear. My words are not garbled. I am understood. My memory is improved. Everything is improved.

My brain testing at UCLA Hospital two years later revealed 0% brain damage. Everything was gone. The doctors were impressed!!!!

Please consider expanding your marketing and sales to the medical field. People can benefit from your products. Thanks so much for making such fabulous products. You really helped me a great deal.

Liane T.

Westminster, California

 

Read another amazing story from a woman in Alaska who used ThinkFun games to recover from traumatic brain injury – a 2nd box of Kleenex may be necessary!

Using Games to Treat Traumatic Brain Injury

An incredible letter recently made its way to my desk.  A woman in Alaska wrote to share a remarkable story, one that reaffirms the brain building (and in some ways even life-saving!) power of play and reminds us that the games we create can do powerful things.

Her letter gave me chills!rush hour brain injury Page 1 791x1024 Using Games to Treat Traumatic Brain Injuryrush hour brain injury Page 2 791x1024 Using Games to Treat Traumatic Brain InjuryThis isn’t the first we’ve heard about our games, particularly Rush Hour, being used to treat patients with brain injuries.  Over the years we have heard from many therapists who use our games to help patients rebuild cognitive and fine motor skills, and Rush Hour was recently featured in an NBC Nightly News segment on treating returning veterans with brain injuries.  We are eager to explore how we can continue to create games that support the incredible work these doctors are doing!

(Check out Rush Hour’s cameo at 00:38)

Are you a therapist or patient who has used games as part of your treatment?  Please share your story!

Snack Attack Serves up Fun and Learning as a Speech/Language Tool!

I am thrilled to share another guest post by Kelly Rholes.  Kelly is a fabulous Speech Therapist who integrates game play into her practice to engage young players and make learning fun and meaningful!  In a previous post she described ways to use Zingo! to support her clients, and here she dives into Snack Attack!, sharing creative ways to use game play to target a range of different learning needs:

This game is FULL…let me say it again…FULL of options for targeting So many speech and language goals. I have created a few of these into a list that may help you when you want a new way to play this game, or when you need a new way to target a goal!

First of all, this game is just great fun, overall. I’ve played it with many of my kiddos and they all enjoy it and ask to play it again and again! They especially love spinning the tube that holds the tokens.
Snack 7930 HiResSpill 300x300 Snack Attack Serves up Fun and Learning as a Speech/Language Tool!If you’re working on subjective pronouns (he/she):

*If your child needs to work on “he”, find a boy to play with you, and if your child needs to practice “she”, find a girl. (This obviously may be a little difficult depending on your situation. Play the game as you normally would except with this twist: Each child will play the other child’s card. The children will call out to you what the other person has. Have the child use the carrier phrase, “S/he has ____” to ensure the use of the pronoun. For example, Bobby needs to work on “she”. Bobby is playing with Sarah. The spinner will be spun, and Bobby will look at Sarah’s card. Sarah has popcorn, and popcorn is available on the game piece. Bobby will yell, “She has popcorn!” Sarah will then put popcorn on her card, and the game continues like this.

*You can play this way for pronouns I/you have. Also, consider targeting has/have if you child has trouble with this “be” verb and tweak the rules based on the child’s ability to follow new rules/skill level.

*Another quick way to target pronouns is to look at the front of the box the game comes in and discuss what each child has on his/her card.

If you’re working on imitation:

* Put some beans or rice in the tube, and close both ends. Shake the beans/rice and hand it to your child. You can even add words or sounds when you shake. For example, “shake, shake, shake!”

* Use the game piece and the tube, but leave the tube empty. Spin the tube and say, “weeeee!” Wait for the child to take a turn, or help the child imitate you by guiding his hand.
Kelly Rholes Snack Attack 300x200 Snack Attack Serves up Fun and Learning as a Speech/Language Tool!
If you’re working on requesting:

* Place a small reinforcer in the tube. Close the tube. Then, show the child the tube. If the child is young, it will probably be hard for him to open the tube; therefore, he will need help opening it. If he’s reinforced enough, he will communicate in some way to let you know he wants it. (Keep in mind this may be crying!) Provide him with a model so that he can imitate you to request at his skill level.

If you’re working on memory:

* Lay target number of tokens out in front of the child. Name them or have the child name them. The child then closes his eyes. Take one of the tokens away. The child will open his eyes and guess which one is missing.

If you’re working on phonological awareness:

* Lay target number of tokens in front of the child. Make sure you have different tokens. Tell the child to give you the one that starts with __. Letters you will be able to target: a, c, g, i, m, p, s. There are 12 different food items. Some start with the same letter. You could also have the child give you the foods that start with the same letter. Another game you could play is to have the child make up a silly (nonsense) word that rhymes with whichever food item you hand him or he draws from the pile.

If you’re working on articulation:

These are for specific sounds:

/g/: I got _______! (The child will use this simple sentence when he finds a food on the game board that matches on his plate.)
/h/: I have ______! (The child will use this simple sentence when he finds a food on the game board that matches on his plate.)
/s/: I see ______! (The child will use this to name the food items once the tube has been spun around the entire game board.)
/f/: I found _______! (The child will use this simple sentence when he finds a food on the game board that matches on his plate.)
/l/: I like/don’t like to eat _____! (The child will use this to talk about the foods on the game board or on his plate.)

If you need this as a reinforcer:

Obvious? The game itself is a reinforcer, but a way you can use this and still target your goals (when targeting them other ways) is to have the child perform the target activity, then take a turn with the game. A turn can mean spinning the tube once and playing until he can no longer play.

If you’re working on ANYTHING:
(answering questions, following directions, speech sounds, etc, etc, etc!)

Use this template if you want or make your own: Colored circles for Snack Attack
Kelly Rholes Snack Attack2 300x200 Snack Attack Serves up Fun and Learning as a Speech/Language Tool!
Cut out the circles and tape them down over the small circles inside the holes where the food lands once the tube has passed over it. Confusing? Here’s a picture. P.S. To make your own circles, use whatever program you want but make sure the circles measure 7/8 of an inch.

You could:

*(Best for 2 players, not including you) Make one colored circle and put a thin thin layer of sticky tack on the back of it. Place it randomly on one of the circles of the game board. Have the children close their eyes. Spin the tube so that the tokens cover up the circles. The children play as they normally would except if someone grabs a food item with a red circle underneath, he must put that token back into the tube. Once that round is finished and the children can no longer play, pick up the tokens that could not be played, move the red circle to another spot, and spin the tube to cover the holes again.

* Put a different colored circle in each of the holes. Have the child spin the empty tube and see where it lands. The color that he lands on is the coordinating color card (that you already made) in which he has to do. These pre-made cards will correspond with your target goals. So, if you have a following directions goal, he will have to perform the activity that the card states.

Here is an example of pre-made cards with a following directions goal:  Following Directions

If you need to work on body parts or clothing, make your cards correspond to pointing to body parts.
If you’re working on specific question types (i.e. “who”), make your cards fit that goal (i.e. “Who delivers mail?”, “Who do you see when you’re sick?”, “Who takes care of sick animals?”, “Who cuts your hair?”)

* Put different colored circles in each of the holes. Play the game as you normally would. Each time a token is picked up, the child must remember the color underneath it. When one round is finished, the child has to repeat the colors in the order he picked up the tokens.

You are not limited to just colors. You can put numbers on your circles (provided as a template) and make up your own games. You would write target letters and work on speech sounds that the empty tube lands on after it has been spun. If working on basic reading and/or phonological awareness, have the child spin the empty tube and read the word it lands on and/or think of another word that starts with that letter and/or rhymes with the word.

If you’re working on patterns:

There are 12 different food items and 11 of each one. Use only the tokens for this. Lay them out to make a pattern (i.e. peanut, peanut, cheese…) Have the child finish your pattern or make his own. You could also make a pattern, then remove one of the tokens. The child must figure out which part of the pattern is missing and replace the token with the correct food item.

If you want the child to answer questions about the foods:

Play the game as you normally would. When one round is finished, look at the child’s plate and ask him a question about one of the foods. Here is an example sheet of questions you can use: Asking Questions

That is all!

A Speech Therapist Builds Language Skills Using Zingo!

I am thrilled to share the following guest post by Kelly Rholes.  Kelly is a fabulous Speech Therapist who integrates game play into her practice to engage young players and make learning fun and meaningful!  Here she shares creative ways to use ThinkFun’s Zingo! game to target a range of different learning needs:

Zingo 300x300 A Speech Therapist Builds Language Skills Using Zingo!

If working on verb tense:

Have the child pull 2 or 3 chips at random and put them in a line. Then the child must create a story in using all past, present, or future tense verbs. For example, if the child grabs a foot, sock and tree and the target tense is using past tense verbs, he could say, “Yesterday I put my sock on my foot, and then I kicked a tree.” Of course, he can make up any sentence, and the sillier the better!

If working on temporal, conditional, or basic directions:

When cleaning up the game, give the child directions for putting the chips back in the slider. Some examples:
Temporal Direction: Put the cake in after you put in the yo-yo.
Conditional Direction: If I put in a T-rex, you put in a tree.
Conditional w/ negation: Don’t put in a foot, unless I put in a shoe.

If working on final consonant deletion:

Many of these chips have words ending in /p/, /t/, /k/, and /g/.  I usually play this game with my children who have final consonant deletion as a phonological processing disorder persisting after 3 years of age. I have the child name the chip or put the word of the chip in a simple sentence. He can also ask, “Do you have a ____?”

If working on memory:

1. Show the child a certain number of chips on a table. Then, have him close his eyes and take one away. Then, the child opens his eyes and and states which chip is missing.

2. Show the child a certain number of chips, asking him to look only. Then, have the child engage in a different task for a certain number of minutes (depending on your goal). After your time is up, begin showing the chips (with a few new ones added) one at a time to the child asking him is he saw the picture earlier.

3. Have a selected chip out for the child. Tell the child that you want him to name as many things he can think of that … in one minute. Turn the timer over to start the time and write down his answers. For example, if you choose hamburger, ask him to name as many other foods he can think of in 1 minute. Or, if you choose apple, have him name as many things that are red 1 one minute.

If working on categories:

1. Lay three chips out in front of the child (two of which belong to the same category– 2 animals, 1 food) and have him state which chip doesn’t belong and why.

2. Lay half or all of the chips out in front of the child (depending on skill level) and have him separate them into categories. If the child needs support, write category titles on separate pieces of paper so the child knows what to look for (i.e. food, animal, transportation, etc).

If working on prepositions:

Have the child grab a chip from a pile. Then give him directions telling him where to place the chip. For example, you can say, “Place the ice cream under the chair.” You can increase the number of directions, as well. For example, “Place the horse on the table then touch your nose.”

If working on functions of objects:

Lay out a certain number of chips (they can related or not depending on difficulty level) on the table. Tell the child, “Hand me the one that flies.” Choose the function you are looking for and ask the child to have you the object that serves that function.

If working on phonological awareness:

Have the child grab a chip from a pile. When he looks at it, ask him to name the chip. Then he must think of another word that starts with the same letter/sound, ends with the same letter/sound, or rhymes with the word.

If working on reading:

Determine your child’s reading level. Write simple sentences on sentence strips (or whatever your heart desires) leaving a blank where a noun should be. Have the child grab a chip  from a pile and a sentence strip. The child must place the chip in the blank (or noun) spot and then read the sentence. Again, the sillier the better!

If working on comparing/contrasting:

Have the child grab two chips from a group of scattered chips  laying face down. He must then name one thing similar about the objects on the chip and one thing different (or whatever your goal is for the child).

If working on sentence structure:

Choose a carrier phrase, and write it on a sentence strip. For example, “I see a _____”, or “This is a _____”. Scatter the chips around. Have the child choose a chip and place it in the blank spot of the sentence strip. Then have him read or say the sentence. You can have multiple types of sentences and the child can also choose a sentence strip when choosing a chip. You can also have the child ask questions while playing the game, such as, “Do you have a _____?”

Of course, this game is great for reinforcing activities. The child can perform a task, then slide the slider one or two times. Taking turns while mastering goals.

Do you have other suggestions for creative ways to use Zingo! to exercise specific skills?  Please share in the comments below!

Using Games as Therapy Tools

One of the highlights of my job are the emails and letters I get from teachers, specialists, parents, even kids, sharing their game experiences!  The following post is from a Child and Adolescent Therapist in Texas who emailed me her story of using Rush Hour as a therapy tool, neat!RushH 5000 HiResSpill 300x300 Using Games as Therapy Tools

Finding New Uses For Rush Hour In a Therapy Practice

Jennifer S. Berliner, Child and Adolescent Therapist
Austin Travis County MHMR Center, Austin, Texas

I’ve been using Rush Hour in my therapy sessions with families. I discovered this game in a local training by a therapist who is doing research on the use of games with at-risk youth. The game Rush Hour is helpful diagnostically to observe problem solving skills and patterns of communication between a teen and parent or between siblings. Do they argue? Share? Work together or in competition?

With Rush Hour, I set up a puzzle and tell them the object is to get the “red car out of the grid lock, you make up the rules…there is only one rule: cars must stay on the road/track they are currently set up on.”

Some observations my colleagues have noticed, anecdotally speaking, are that adolescents seem to be the group that tries to “cheat” by lifting the cars off the road and moving them! Also, overwhelmed parents tend to give up and throw in the towel and disengage before teen (Mmm, telling information for the teen that keeps running away from home, skipping school, etc.).

Interestingly, the game Rush Hour is also a GREAT metaphor for parents/teens:

  • Does the teen like to break other rules or take short cuts?
  • Siblings (or team members in a class), what was it like to “establish the rules of the game?” Where the rules fair? Did you all agree on the rules?
  • What are the house (or classroom) rules?
  • What (if anything) happens when you break a rule?
  • (If a parent ‘gives up on the game’): Have you, the parent, ever walked away when your teen gets into a complicated jam?
  • Have you ever been in a jam?
  • Did you get out of the jam on your own?
  • Have you been helped out of a jam?
  • Have you helped others out of jam?
  • What did you do to get out of a jam?

Social-emotional skills are vital to development, yet often overlooked because they are learned mostly by observation and modeling. Social-emotional skills include tasks such as sharing, taking turns, waiting your turn (very difficult for kids with impulse control & ADHD), and reading non-verbal communication cues. Also, playing Rush Hour promotes team work and problem-solving together rather than in competition.

The ThinkFun Education site is great and I look forward to the newsletters! You might consider putting together some activities around the social-emotional education that ThinkFun games offers players! Keep up the GREAT work!

S’Match Supports Speech Therapy Sessions (say that 3 times fast!)

The following post is by speech-language pathologist Sherry Artemenko, featured on her Playonwords blog

smatch playing275 206x300 SMatch Supports Speech Therapy Sessions (say that 3 times fast!)

Strengthen language skills through play!

SPEECH THERAPY GAMES: S’ MATCH BY THINKFUN

I use fun commercial games for speech therapy all the time. Some are valuable as a reinforcer after a turn of saying a sound, practicing a language structure or using appropriate social language. It is helpful if they are fast paced and turns are quick to keep the session going. But some games have a bit of language learning embedded in them too. I have blogged about Richard Scarry’s Busytown and Mystery Garden for learning association and categorization.

A new game that just came out, S’ Match, by Thinkfun, can be used as a reinforcer or to learn language categories. You have to know the story behind the invention of this game. When I was at the Toy Fair, I spoke with Thinkfun’s Education and Curriculum Specialist and she said the Staples Easy Button and a salad spinner inspired the pop up spinner kids love that turns the dial to point to one of three attributes: color, number or category. Players turn over two cards and try to match images according to the attributes, making this a more complex memory game.

I first used the game with a little girl working on her /s/ sound. Every time we got a match we said, “S’ Match!” and each time we spun the wheel we said, “Spin the s’match.” When it stopped, we said, “I spun color, or category.” Interestingly enough, when kids didn’t make a match according to the spinner, they still called out the kind of match they got. For instance, if they had to match by category but uncovered two orange cards, they would say, “Smatch for color,” making a verbal note of where to find that match should they need it in the future. To reinforce categories, we would say, “a s’match for vehicles,” naming the category. Each sturdy cardboard card has the image as well at the words to encourage literacy.

Don’t forget to always look for a little language in a game.

Sherry Artemenko, MA-CCC, is a speech-language pathologist with more than 35 years experience and founder of Playonwords.com. The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the author. “S’Match” was provided for review by Thinkfun.

Rush Hour in Cairo Egypt!

Here’s a photo of a real-life Rush Hour traffic jam sent to me by Laura Efinger, a pediatric occupational therapist (and big Rush Hour fan!) in Cairo, Egypt.  Laura writes, “I have attached a picture of some Cairo traffic, which may explain why we love Rush Hour in Egypt! icon smile Rush Hour in Cairo Egypt!  Some is parking and some traffic, but it probably is the worst in the world, and no one follows the lines in the road and rules!”

cairo traffic jam Rush Hour in Cairo Egypt!

A Real Life Traffic Jam in Cairo, Egypt

All that’s missing is the Red Car!

Picture 24 Rush Hour in Cairo Egypt!

A much more enjoyable "Traffic Jam" challenge!

For several years, Laura has used many ThinkFun games, including Rush Hour (which she reports is the hands-down favorite!) in her occupational therapy sessions with children in  Cairo, Egypt.  Laura writes, “I love them [ThinkFun games] as they develop the children’s visual motor/perceptual skills, fine motor, memory and planning skills.”

At a 2008 Occupational Therapy Conference, Laura presented a therapy-based workshop called “Recipes for Fun” in which participants were shown ways to use games like Rush Hour as tools to help children develop academic and sensory motor skills.  Looks like fun was had by all!

Cairo RH 300x225 Rush Hour in Cairo Egypt!Cairo RH2 300x225 Rush Hour in Cairo Egypt!Cairo RH1 225x300 Rush Hour in Cairo Egypt!Cairo RH3 300x280 Rush Hour in Cairo Egypt!

Laura is preparing for this year’s Conference which will take place at the end of the month. Here she plans to host a workshop focusing on the benefits of using card games to help children with skills such as attention, sequencing, memory, fine motor, etc.   Stay tuned for an update!

For more on Laura and her work, please visit her Occupational Therapy in Egypt blog!