One of the final rehabilitation stages for a child with neuromotor disturbances should involve general physical fitness. Exercising on the rockodrome (a wall equipped for rock climbing) significantly helps achieve proper physical fitness.
Indeed, as soon as the child with infantile cerebral palsy has managed for the first time to rise to his feet and stand, when weight-bearing surfaces of his great and medium joints are ready to accept vertical loadings, we face a number of new problems:
-to provide the child with sufficient age-specific physical exercises;
-to model correct locomotor stereotypes;
-to relieve a child from the fear of his own height.
It is extremely difficult to make a child perform physical exercises at any age, a difficulty that is only increased if the child has been bed-ridden for a prolonged period. However, when engaged in games children can often perform surprisingly well. In a game there are many ways to induce a child to lift his knees higher and even to move his knee to the side. But what can be done about the fear that prevents a child from standing on his own feet?.
Looking into this problem more deeply, we found a unique training device, one that can address almost all these problems at once. Rockodrome is an artificial construction invented by Francois Savini, a Frenchman. Rockodrome simulates a rock surface, constructed by fastening special hooks on vertical and inclined walls. Rock-climbing simultaneously trains the cardiovascular system, increases the strength of muscles and tendons, and develops flexibility, coordination and balance.
First and foremost, rock-climbing puts weight on legs and feet, for it is necessary to bend them, to turn, to reach toeholds, to angle tiptoes wide apart and to nestle the body against the rock. In this manner the stereotype of stepping is created.
Moreover, rock-climbing can easily be transformed into a game; and as an additional motivation competitions can be arranged among the children.
Once a child has climbed to a height of more than two meters, it is no longer so frightening for him to look down from his own body height.
Thus, by means of play exercises on the rockodrome a child receives age-specific physical activity while training practically all muscle groups. He acquires a stepping stereotype together with the ability to raise his knees higher and spread his legs and feet. As he plays, the fear of his own height melts away.