Exercises for Children with Neurological Conditions: Upper Limb Active Movement Exercises
KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) Paediatric Neurology and Occupational Therapy departments share useful upper limb active movement exercises for children with long-term neurological conditions.
Exercising the upper limb joints
helps to maintain flexibility of the arms and range of movement.
Active movement of the upper limb joints is important to maintain flexibility and range of movement. It also helps to improve strength and coordination of the upper limb and may reduce onset of pain in joints. Movement of the arms and hands can be encouraged through joint-specific active range of motion (AROM) exercises and participation in functional activities.
This handout serves as a guide to possible active movement exercises/activities for the upper limb. Do ensure that you have been taught the recommended exercises and exercise regime by your child’s Occupational Therapist before carrying them out.
Safety precautions when exercising
Ensure your child is positioned comfortably in standing, sitting or lying
Perform the movements slowly
Focus on getting your child to achieve the correct movement pattern. It may be helpful to pace your child during exercises to encourage better control/coordination
Do not force the movement if the muscle or joint is stiff. Move the arm within the safe range as recommended by your therapist
Maintain a sustained stretch at end range
Observe for signs of pain or discomfort – Stop if pain occurs, and check in with your therapist before continuing further
Upper limb active exercises
Keep elbow straight with thumb pointing out
Raise arm up towards the head
Lower the arm and straighten it behind the back
Keep elbow straight with palm facing down
Raise arm to the side, away from the body and over the head
Lower the arm back to side of body
Move hand towards shoulder, bending at the elbow
To extend, slowly straighten the elbow
Position arm at the side with elbow bent
Pronation: Turn forearm and wrist so that the palm is facing down
Supination: Turn your forearm and wrist in the opposite direction so the palm is facing up
Flexion: Bend both thumb joints, bring tip of thumb towards palm
Extension: Gently straighten out thumb