Diane Berg McCormack is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist in Private Practice in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. She is Co-Author, with Dr. Kathy Riske Perrin OTR, of the book Spatial,Temporal and Physical Analysis of Motor Control (Therapy Skill Builders) and Article Contributor: “How Can I Get that Arm Straight? The Quest for Elbow Extension” in Parent Articles about NDT (Therapy Skill Builders 1-800-228-0752).
Rifton's new Anchor Family of grab bars are more than typical grab bars. They are in essence a way for students and young adults to become more independent in the classroom, community and home. The Anchor family provides a point of stability for the elbow, hand or arm.
As active students why would someone want to use another piece of adaptive equipment? The Anchor family is a set of distal arm stabilizers that enhance proximal stability of head, shoulder, trunk and pelvic control. Hierarchical development theory used to emphasize working on proximal head, shoulder and pelvic control before distal hand control. Now we know that distal stability of the hands and feet also enhance the development of “core" neck, shoulder, abdominal and pelvic muscles, so distal arm stability can enhance function.
While in a regular school classroom, Gavin, a student with spastic cerebral palsy, would suddenly flail his arms and his body would spasm. He would disrupt the class and felt uncomfortable with the flailing of his limbs. When he was provided with the Hand Anchor on his wheelchair tray, he was able to reach for this easy Anchor during the day as a way to calm his body's reactions. He no longer needed assistance to refocus himself after an incident and he was able to be an active participant in the classroom.
Students or young adults with hemiplegia (one side of the body affected) may hold their affected limb in a "high guard" position in order to move and reach out with the other limb. These static arm positions hamper the development of more dynamic shoulder and trunk movements. The Arm, Hand, Wrist, Elbow, Horizontal Anchor and the Anchor Grab bar allows the individual to select the Anchor that provides the support needed to facilitate more dynamic shoulder, arm and trunk movements.
Heather, a young adult with spastic hemiplegia (one side more involved) is able to use the Wrist Anchor to keep her trunk and head in better alignment while eating. This Anchor facilitates a more typical hand position in the more affected hand. Instead of an aide needing to reposition her several times during the meal she can now maintain a more functional position and is able to socialize with peers instead of concentrating on sitting while eating.
As parents, caregivers, therapists and individuals with disabilities our goals are to enhance functional performance in each individual’s daily lives. The Anchor Family by Rifton throws out to us an Anchor….A Way to Independence.
These Anchors can provide stability in an individual’s arm that prevents the body from drifting into asymmetrical compensatory patterns that hamper activities. The hand grips and portable grab bars have industrial strength suction cups that provide a solid base for activities in a variety of positions. Drop an Anchor into an everyday life and find increased independence. Anchors a Way!
Special thanks to Dawn Gode OTR/L for her valuable feedback and observations regarding the Anchor Family.