Human Performance and Rehabilitation Centers, Inc.

Coronavirus: Easy and beneficial ways to keep children active when stuck at home

Being stuck at home in the midst of the evolving Coronavirus situation is a big challenge for all of us, especially parents and caregivers. The days can start to feel really long when we want to keep children occupied, while also limiting screen time. The good news is, your household is filled with common items that can be used to not only keep your child active, but encourage fundamental developmental skills. These activities are also a great outlet to give your child’s brain a break from school work and get the whole family doing a fun activity together.

These activities aren’t complicated, and you don’t have to have Pinterest-level creativity to make them work. Best of all, when your kids engage in these kinds of movement-based games, they’re enhancing their strength, coordination, balance and motor skills without even knowing it.


It’s amazing how much fun children can have with a few inexpensive balloons. Blow up several and challenge your kids to keep them all in the air at the same time. Or, bounce just one into the air and see how many times your child can keep it up before it hits the ground. Count the number of times they bounce the balloon in the air, then challenge them to beat their time.

Add another dimension to the balloon game by creating a set of homemade paddles. Attach paper plates to wooden spoons with tape. Children can use the paddles to hit a balloon back and forth like tennis. Or, they can see who can keep a balloon in the air the longest while using the paddle. These activities are great for promoting dynamic balance, coordination and endurance. It also encourages visual attention to task, which helps with handwriting and copying from the board.

You can also create a DIY balloon popper with a cardboard tube or a plastic cup. Take a balloon and tie off its end (just as you do when you blow it up). Cut off the top of the balloon so that it’s open on one end and tied on the other. Stretch the open end over a cardboard tube or small cup and tape it down securely. Place a small object inside (pom-pom balls, cotton balls or marshmallows work great). Pull back on the balloon part and let it go. Use these instructions for help. Make it even more challenging by trying to catch the object with the cup when it falls to the ground.


Spoon racing never goes out of style – maybe because it’s fun and is one of the easiest household challenges imaginable. Try balancing a plastic Easter egg on a kitchen spoon while racing your family members. You can adapt this game by using a variety of different objects such as larger wooden spoon, a golf ball, or even a balled-up pair of socks. You can even do this activity with your homemade paddles and balloons. Create your own “field day” by having children hold their own spoon race outside in the fresh air. Balance and coordination are essential for doing everyday activities like carrying a lunch tray at school or walking in line in the hallways.

Plastic Cups

Many of us keep stacks of plastic cups in our pantry, which happen to be the main ingredient of this fun hand-eye coordination activity. Divide cups evenly among children, then have them race to stack them up and build a tower. Play fun music while the race is on and see who can do it the fastest. This activity works on visual motor integration as well as fine motor and bilateral coordination. Another fun cup activity is to line them up like bowling pins and knock them down with a ball. Or you can lay the cup on its side and use it as a target to roll or hit a golf ball into.

Sidewalk Chalk

Using chalk is a quick and easy way to create different agility challenges. Classic hopscotch is a great bilateral coordination and balance activity. The out-and-in jumping pattern mimics jumping jacks as well. Draw zig-zags, curves, or straight-line pathways that you can use to practice your balance while you try not to “fall off” the line. Kids can even race each other through an entire course of various “balance beams.”

Have a pre-school aged child? Draw different large shapes and have children jump to each one, practicing their gross motor skills and strengthening their legs while learning their colors, shapes or numbers. You can also have children practice balancing on one foot while standing in the shapes.

Animal walks

What kid doesn’t like to pretend to be an animal? Children can pretend to be walk like a duck, crab, bear, or jump like a frog while trying to race each other. All of these exercises involve using the entire body to help children build muscle strength, balance, coordination and flexibility. They target the core area, which is essential for all movement. This is especially good for children with poor posture or who have difficulty sitting still.

Laundry Basket

Another great balancing activity is to have your kids use their feet to pick up objects and place them in a laundry basket. You can use laundry baskets, cardboard boxes or mixing bowls. Have children stand up and pick up items with their toes (marbles, pom-pom balls, socks, etc.) and try to place it in the basket without dropping it. You can also place a bean bag on top of their foot and see if they can keep it there while doing the activity. This activity targets balance and builds strength in the hips, core and feet. It is great for kids who are flat-footed or pigeon-toed.

Stefanie Ortiz, DPT, is a licensed Physical Therapist at HPRC Pediatric Rehabilitation in Columbus, GA. She joined HPRC in January 2018 after completing her DPT in Physical Therapy in 2017 from Armstrong State University. Stefanie received a B.S. in Rehabilitation Science from Armstrong State University in 2014. Her practice area is Pediatric orthopedics. She lives in Columbus, GA with her fiancé and sweet baby boy. Stefanie’s favorite past times include sports, outdoor activities and crafting.

Ice Cream Puffy Paint Craft

Craft of the Day: Ice Cream Puffy Paint

This Ice Cream Puffy Paint craft is a great way to work on many different fine motor, visual motor, and sensory integration skills! Cutting and coloring are school based skills that require a great deal of coordination, strength, and visual attention. Mixing the puffy paint and painting with your finger is a fun way to involve your sensory system and help your kids feel more comfortable with a variety of different textures. You can make this craft easier by cutting it out beforehand and allowing your younger kids to color or paint once the ice cream cone is assembled. We hope this activity is a fun and entertaining way to continue working on your therapy skills at home!

Click here to get the ice cream printable!

Home Speech Therapy Activities to Keep Your Kiddos Busy

With public schools closed due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19, you may find yourself and your kiddos getting stir-crazy. There are a number of activities you can do with your children to keep them engaged and active. HPRC’s Brittany Hinkle, M.S., CCC-SLP would like to share some free resources with our parents.

  1. Articulation Take Home Packet (Free for a limited time!)
  2. Helpful Speech Tips and Techniques to Help Your Child Speak Clearly 
  3. Podcasts, Apps, Youtube Channels and Websites



Information on the Coronavirus/COVID-19 

General statement from Human Performance and Rehabilitation Centers, Inc. 

Human Performance and Rehabilitation Centers, Inc. (HPRC) would like to acknowledge we are closely monitoring information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as state and local health authorities. With any newly emerging infectious disease, knowledge evolves with time and recommendations are changing rapidly. As new information is released, HPRC guarantees to keep our patients updated.  

HPRC clinics are open and will continue to serve our patients. We have taken the necessary steps to educate our staff and are practicing additional hygiene and cleaning practices to ensure our clinics remain safe. These training measures include: 

  • Advising HPRC’s staff and patients to stay home if showing any symptoms 
  • Cough and sneeze etiquette  
  • Frequently cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces 
  • Hand sanitizer made readily available in all clinics and frequent hand washing 

If you feel sick 

COVID-19 is a virus that is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person in two ways; between people who are in close contact with one another and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In efforts to keep our patients and staff safe, if you experience fever, cough or shortness of breath we ask that you contact your clinic by phone to reschedule your appointment. We are waiving any late and cancellation fees for illness-related cancellations.  

 Stay informed 

The CDC has the most current information about the virus, including everything you need to know about how the virus spreads, how it’s treated, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you get sick. Stay on top of the latest by visiting the CDC website, which is being updated frequently. 

You can also learn how your state’s department of public health is responding to the situation by visiting the website for the state where you live: 



Are walkers, exersaucers and jumpers safe to use?

They’re colorful, engaging and fun, and they seem like great places to place your infant while you take a much needed break.

But are walkers, exersaucers and jumpers really good for infants?

There’s growing belief among pediatric physical and occupational therapists that these common childhood devices aren’t the best way to promote gross motor development or cognitive development, and that they actually can promote delays or atypical development. It’s a good idea to understand exactly what’s happening when your infant is using a walker or jumper, so that you can make an informed decision about integrating them into your daily routine.

Possible Safety Concerns

Safety is an ongoing concern with these devices. One of the biggest safety concerns is that the infant is now upright, and mobile if in a walker. This allows them upright freedom of movement before they are cognitively and physically ready for this movement, and it allows them access to a variety of harmful items that are on counters, tables and other places around the house. In fact, these kinds of concerns led to a ban on baby walkers in Canada, which has been in place since 2004.

Understanding Development

To achieve proper physical and cognitive skills, infants and children need to go through certain developmental milestones, such as rolling, sitting, crawling and walking. If you’re apt to put your infant in a walker, exersaucer or jumper frequently, it can interfere with the brain’s pathways and the natural milestone progression. Infants tend to have poor posture when in these devices, as they lean or lock out their legs, or they just lean and keep their legs bent or dangling. This can promote the development of bad habits, such as toe-walking and continually bouncing or jumping when held. Additionally, these devices do not allow infants to rotate their trunks or shift their weight with control, thus affecting their development of balance. Every time we move, our body learns. When an infant is allowed to move on the floor, such as crawling or pulling to stand at a stable surface, they are working on their balance. This is through repetition of movement and feedback from our muscles/joints to our brain. This is a way of developing balance control and is not accomplished in a walker, exersaucer or jumper.  Lastly, these devices also do not allow infants to explore their feet, which is needed for overall development, but especially for the progression towards independent walking.

What to do

Limit the use of walkers, exersaucers and jumpers, to no more than 15 minutes a day. When in such devices, place a pillow or book under your child’s feet so they have a better chance of standing with flat feet versus standing on their toes or rolling their ankles. Better yet, create a play place on the floor for infants, such as with baby gates or corrals, which will keep them safe, but allow them to move and explore on their own. Play mats with toys to reach for are also great. Infants like toys of varying colors, textures and sounds. You can also use a Pack n’ Play to keep your infant safe, as this will allow him or her to roll, crawl and even pull up to standing. Best yet, get on the floor with your infant. Interact with them, help them to reach for toys or their feet, help them roll and do lots and lots of supervised awake belly time.

Overall, we want healthy, happy infants and parents. Safe floor play is the best way to encourage movement and overall development. Placing infants in devices such as walkers, jumpers and exersaucers can limit this.


Catherine Stubbs, PT, DPT, PCS is a licensed Physical Therapist and Department Director at Pediatric Rehabilitation, Columbus, GA. She has been employed with HPRC since 2002. Catherine received her M.S. in Physical Therapy in 2000 from North Georgia College and State University and her DPT in 2019 from Arcadia University. She is an APTA board certified clinical specialist in pediatric physical therapy. Catherine lives with her husband, Brian, and children in Columbus, Georgia.


Physical Therapists Provide Movement Checkups

Your body is complex, with multiple systems. All of which have to be working well for it to function. Physical therapists are experts in maintaining, diagnosing, and treating the movement system. Like the braking or ignition system in a car, most people only think of the movement system when it’s not working the way it should. Most people have a mechanic for when their car breaks down, and most people have regular maintenance performed on their car. Less common is having a physical therapist and having regular checkups of your movement system. Similar to the systems in your car, problems with your movement system are much easier to treat if they’re found early. This keeps small issues from becoming larger ones. For example, if you have a little bit of weakness, and balance that’s not quite up to par, improving those early could prevent a sprained ankle, or a fall and a broken wrist. An annual movement screen from your physical therapist can find small issues that you may not have noticed with your strength, balance, flexibility, or coordination. Many of these minor issues can be fixed with a few exercises at home, or with just a few visits.

What to Expect

A screen of your movement system is quick and easy. Your annual visit may include:

● A history of your injuries, as well as a health history

● Assessment of your strength, balance, flexibility, etc.

● A review of your movement goals (do you want to run a marathon? Get on and off the floor easily playing with your grandkids?)

● A review and update of your exercise program

About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association

Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit

Backpacks and Back Pain: How To Make Sure Your Child’s School Backpack Does No Harm

These days, lifting your child’s backpack can provoke this sort of response:

“This is so heavy! How can you possibly carry it?”

Backpacks today feel like they’re filled with rocks or weights instead of the essential tools of learning. Thick textbooks and even thicker binders are crammed into the backpacks of developing children and teens, whose daily load might also include juggling lunch boxes, musical instruments and athletic gear.

How can you ensure your child has what he or she needs to succeed in school without causing harm to their young bodies?

A backpack can be an efficient way to carry a load, but only when it’s be worn and used correctly. A backpack should be appropriately sized to wearer and isn’t filled with more than 10% to 15% of a person’s body weight. Taking time to carry a backpack the right way will go a long way in preventing low back pain, posture problems and other concerns.

Select a backpack that fits

One of the biggest mistakes parents of younger children face is selecting a backpack that’s too big. Perhaps you have a pre-Kindergartener who insists on an oversized Frozen backpack that seems better suited for a larger child. What do you do if you can’t find an equivalent smaller option? Keep looking! Backpacks that are too large for the wearer can throw the body off balance because the weight inside is not distributed evenly.  According to the National Safety Council, a backpack should not be wider than a child’s torso or hang more than 4 inches below the waist.

Never wear just one shoulder strap

Some kids might think it looks cool to carry a backpack slung on one shoulder, but this posture can cause strain on one side of the body. It might not be immediately apparent, but carrying a disproportionate amount of weight on one side can lead to posture and movement problems that trigger muscular pain in the neck, shoulder, hip and knee.

Be mindful of recommended weight limits

The recommended weight limit for a backpack is not more than 10% to 15% of the wearer’s bodyweight. For example, If your child weighs 80 pounds, his backpack should not weigh more than 8 to 12 pounds. Pick up your child’s backpack from time to time and place it on a bathroom scale. If it’s too heavy, see what sorts of adjustments you can make. Encourage them to clean it out regularly. It’s possible that books could be returned to the library, or that some textbooks could be left in a locker or at home when they’re not needed.

Choose a backpack that has thick, padded, adjustable shoulder straps

Be sure to select a backpack that includes thick, padded, adjustable shoulder straps. Most modern school backpacks feature this, but there are less practical designs that include thinner straps or cords that are not padded. Thicker straps help to distribute the load more evenly and won’t dig into the shoulders like thin straps can.

Pack strategically

The way you pack a backpack makes a difference in how easy it is to carry it. Help your child load their backpack by placing the heaviest items in first, so that they’re placed closest to the wearer’s back. If the backpack holds multiple three-ring binders, be sure to alternate the thick and thin ends of the binders so that, together, they create an even block. Distribute the load of smaller items by placing them into compartments.

Choose lightweight material

Select a backpack that is made of a lighter weight material, such as nylon, rather than canvas or leather. While canvas and leather might seem trendier or more attractive, they add unnecessary weight that can cause the wearer to leans forward to compensate. This stooped-over position causes poor body mechanics and can cause low back pain.

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s backpack, or if they’re experiencing low back pain as a result of a backpack that’s too heavy, talk to a qualified clinician. An experienced PT or PTA can work with your child about good habits now that will protect their health and wellness for years to come.

Lindsey Martindill a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant who has been employed with HPRC since 2017. She earned her PTA degree from Darton College, after earning a BS in Exercise Science from Columbus State University. Lindsey is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), and Physical Therapy Association of Georgia. She is ASTYM (Augmented Soft Tissue Massage) certified. Her practice specialties include orthopedics, sports injuries and pain science.


Do You Have TMJ Pain?

If you’ve ever woken up in the morning with a headache, heard the sound of your jaw popping or clicking, or experienced pain or stiffness in the jaw and neck, you may be one of the more than 10 million Americans who experience TMJ pain. Despite what you’ve heard, this is not a condition you have to live with. Physical therapy is a highly effective, non-invasive treatment option for TMJ pain that routinely yields good results.

What TMJ pain feels Like

TMJ is shorthand for temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects the lower jaw to the bone at the side of the head. When people say “I have TMJ,” they’re referring to the pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement. This common condition presents itself in a variety of ways from patient to patient, but it’s usually marked by pain in the face, jaw or neck; stiffness or limited movement in the jaw muscle; painful clicking or popping when opening and closing the mouth, or a change in the way the teeth fit together. While most patients tend to discuss concerns about TMJ pain with their dentists or doctors first, it’s a good idea to see a physical therapist if you’re experiencing it. Direct access laws enable you to schedule appointments directly, without a physician referral. Patients with TMJ pain usually see positive results in reducing or eliminating their symptoms after seeing a PT who is experienced in treating these kinds of cases.

Causes of TMJ Pain

TMJ pain is fairly common and stems from a wide range of causes. It can result from trauma to the jaw or teeth, arthritis, general stiffness in the neck due to sitting behind a computer, side sleeping on one’s cheek or teeth grinding during the night. Even excessive talking, bubble gum chewing or nail biting can trigger TMJ pain. Stress and anxiety can also be a cause, and so can orthodontic braces. Women tend to experience TMJ pain more often than men, possibly because of hormonal changes.

Physical Therapy Can Help TMJ Pain

Physical therapy for TMJ pain can be very effective in reducing discomfort and restoring movement. An experienced PT will use a variety of treatments to improve symptoms, such as joint and soft tissue mobilizations, postural education, exercises for range of motion and strength, and modalities to reduce pain and relax the jaw muscles.

Patients usually see results in four to six weeks. On-site therapy works best when paired with an at-home program that is specifically designed for each patient’s needs. That may include avoiding foods that are hard to chew, watching your neck posture and applying heat or ice to the large “chewing” muscles in front of your ears. Watching your jaw posture is also important. This includes avoiding clenching your teeth throughout the day, an unconscious habit known as “bruxism.”

Your PT program will work in conjunction with any treatments that may have been recommended by your physician or dentist.

Samuel Coley, PT, has been employed with HPRC since 2011. He is a certified ASTYM provider of the Upper & Lower Extremity and he is certified in the treatment of myofascial pain and dysfunction with dry needling. His specialties and interests include orthopedics, TMJ treatment, sports performance and manual therapy. Same is a member of the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia, American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), and Orthopedic Section of the APTA.


ASTYM for Improving Range of Motion in Breast Cancer Patients

One of the biggest challenges for breast cancer patients who have undergone breast surgery is the loss of range of motion due to the presence of scar tissue. Breast tissue is very delicate and scars to a higher degree than other areas of the body, so after a surgical procedure, such as a mastectomy or lumpectomy, the tissue can draw inward and harden, and limit flexibility. This often occurs along the incision and the drain sites. It can also occur in patients who have undergone radiation therapy.

As a result, many patients will find it difficult to raise the arm to perform simple tasks like showering, fastening a bra or reaching up into a cabinet. It’s important to seek out therapy after surgery to eliminate this build-up of scar tissue and to restore everyday function and mobility.

While manual therapy has long been used to address loss of range of motion, recent studies have shown ASTYM therapy — short for Augmented Soft Tissue Mobilization — to have very positive results in improving function and range of motion in breast cancer patients. ASTYM is a relatively new form of non-invasive soft tissue therapy used to effectively break down the scar tissue and trigger a reparative response. The process is simple but highly effective when administered correctly. Using a “scraping” motion, a certified clinician will gently run a small, smooth, hard plastic tool over the surface of the skin to find areas below the skin where scar tissue is present. This is done with the help of a lubricant to ease discomfort. These deliberative movements find and loosen scar tissue so that the body can reabsorb it. And, at the same time, it stimulates the production of new tissue. At the end of the therapy session, the clinician will also provide stretching and strengthening exercises to reinforce the work accomplished by the ASTYM stimulation.

Patients often feel increased range of motion and/or decreased tightness even after the first session of treatment. After a few sessions, significant flexibility can return as more scar tissue is reabsorbed and the body grows healthy new tissues.

For more information about ASTYM therapy for post-surgery breast cancer patients, please contact us at (706) 225-0380.

Laura Sherwood, PT, DPT, OCS is a licensed Physical Therapist at St. Francis Rehab Main Street Village in Columbus, GA. She is an APTA Board Certified Clinical Orthopedic Specialist (OCS) and an APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor. Laura is certified in dry needling and ASTYM. Her special interests include orthopedic, neurological and lymphedema-related conditions.

How Speech Language Therapy Can Help After a Stroke

Speech therapy can make a big difference to those who have suffered strokes, but one of the most important things to remember is that treatment should be tailored to each patient’s specific needs and therapeutic goals. This is important because even people who have suffered strokes in the same part of the brain might exhibit different impacts. A licensed speech language pathologist (SLP) will create a therapy plan that gives a patient the best possible chance of achieving his or her specific goals, which will likely include improving speech and language capabilities as well as swallowing capacity. The therapy plan should also include at-home instructions for family members or caregivers to create continuity with what is accomplished in a therapy center.

To understand how speech therapy for stroke survivors works, it’s important to understand more about the common conditions these patients face.


The term aphasia refers to the impairment of language, including the ability to understand or produce speech. Severity of aphasia runs the gamut from anomia, or difficulty recalling specific words, to global aphasia, where a patient might be completely nonverbal and experience difficulty understanding what is said to them.

The speech language pathologist will create a treatment plan that helps a patient move from their current condition to working toward the specific functional improvement the patient and his or her family feel is important. Exercises may include impairment-based therapies, in which a clinician directly stimulates listening and speaking skills; or communication-based therapies where the therapist helps the patient compensate for language difficulty loss by helping him or her use other strategies or communication modes.


Dysphagia refers to difficulty in swallowing, also a common problem for those who have suffered a stroke. A speech language pathologist will create a therapy plan for helping the patient restore as much of this important function as possible. This usually includes swallowing exercises, sometimes with resistance, that help strengthen muscles and re-teach swallowing skills. Patients also practice swallowing, possibly working up to sucking thick substances, like pudding, through a straw to strengthen neck and throat muscles. Regular repetition of swallowing exercises, both in the clinic and at home, is important in restoring function.


Dysarthria is a condition in which speech is hard to understand or is slurred. The speech language pathologist will use repetitive exercises and other strategies to stimulate speech improvement.

Two Key Factors to Success

A couple of factors go a long way in how much success a stroke patient will have in speech therapy. One is attitude. It’s difficult to suffer a stroke and deal with its aftermath, but patients who adopt a positive, never-give-up attitude tend to see better results. Another factor is the willingness to practice at home. While onsite therapy with a speech language pathologist is key to making progress in improving impaired speech, language and swallowing, it’s crucial to repeat exercises at home with the help of caregivers. Continuity is key to seeing results.


Virginia “Ginnie” Byrd is a licensed Speech Language Pathologist based at HPRC’s St. Francis Rehabilitation Main Street Village Campus in Columbus, GA. Ginnie is certified through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and holds her Certificate of Clinical Competency (CCC). Speech, language, swallowing, cognition, and voice therapy are all part of her rehabilitation practice.