Baby passive range of motion exercises to improve joint movement

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Passive range of motion exercises help keep your baby's joints and muscles loose and easy to move. The goal is to keep his or her muscles and joints flexible. This time should be fun for you and your baby. Turn on some music and make a game of it. You will enjoy it more and so will your baby. You may want to try these exercises after bath time. Warm joints and muscles are easier to move. These passive range of motion exercises should be done several times a day with your baby.

Always do the exercises with your baby lying on his back. Hold his arm above and below the joint being exercised. For example, if you are moving his elbow, put one hand above and one hand below his elbow. Move his arm gently. Wait until your baby is relaxed and then move his arm in the direction you want it to go. Do not move his arm if you feel resistance. Move the joint slowly and gently. Always support the joint being moved

Do each of these exercises 10 times with your baby’s joints. Gently hold each position for 3 to 5 seconds. Repeat these exercises several times a day.

 

Shoulder Flexion:

(Raising arm above head) Use one hand to hold your baby above his shoulder joint. Use your other hand to hold his wrist. Slowly raise his arm forward and upward to bring his hand and elbow over his head, with his thumb pointing up. Gently keep his elbow as straight as possible.

 

Shoulder Abduction:

(Raising arm outward to side) Use one hand to hold your baby above his shoulder joint. Use your other hand to hold his wrist. Move his arm slowly to his side away from his body until it is straight out to his side. Palm down.

Shoulder Rotation:

Use one hand to hold your baby’s upper arm steady and support the shoulder joint. Hold his forearm with your other hand. Slowly bend his forearm up and then down in an arc alongside his body. His arm should turn at the shoulder and his elbow should remain bent at appoximately a 90° angle. This exercise can be done with your child’s elbow next to his side or away from his side.

Elbow Flexion and Extension:

(Bending elbow) Hold above your baby’s elbow with one hand and at his wrist with your other hand. Slowly bend his elbow to extend his arm at the elbow joint and then bring wrist back toward the shoulder to flex the elbow.

Forearm supination and pronation:

(Palm up, palm down) Support your baby’s elbow with one hand and his wrist with your other hand. Turn his forearm so that his hand faces upward and then slowly down downward.

Wrist Flexion and Extension:

(Bending wrist) Support your baby's wrist with one of your hands and his hand with your hand. Gently move his hand upward and then downward, bending at the wrist.

 

Finger Abduction and Adduction:

(Separating and bringing together each finger) Hold his hand with one of your hands and his fingers with your other hand. Slowly and gently bend each finger sideways away from its nearest finger and then together again.

Finger Flexion and Extension:

(Closing and opening fist) Hold his hand with one of your hands and his fingers with your other hand. Bend his slightly upward and straight and then curl inward into a fist.

 

Thumb Abduction, Adduction and Rotation:

(Thumb in and out of from palm) Hold your baby’s hand with one of your hands and hold his thumb with your other hand. Move the thumb away from the side of his hand and then back inward toward palm. Slowly and gently rotate each thumb in small circular motion, like the motion of the thumb when "twiddling thumbs"twiddling thumbs

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