are air filled objects used for therapeutic purposes. They are constructed of
20 Mil PVC vinyl with a large air valve for rapid inflation and deflation. In
areas of high stress, lap seam construction is utilized. Due to their
resilient nature, they offer an enjoyable alternative to conventional
equipment by providing increased sensory feedback. They can be used in
obstacle course routes, group activities or individual treatments. Treatment
ideas are described in the treatment ideas section of this
website. Each piece can be
adjusted to the desired level of firmness depending on the individualís need
and activity. Ther-A-Shapes can be divided into five classifications:
Air Tube, Air Pillow, Air Cylinder, Air Wedge, and Air Mattress.
AIR TUBE OR CYLINDER
These items are oblong pieces,
which offer great versatility for treating individuals at different levels of
motor development. The air tubes are more rectangular in shape than the air
cylinder and offer more stability. They are also larger and constructed to
withstand more vigorous activity such as bouncing. The large or medium air
tubes are capable of supporting the weight of a therapist and client
simultaneously. The air cylinders are suitable for infants and small children
and make ideal positioning pieces, i.e. as an abductor roll between the legs,
or back roll for side lying.
The air pillow is a square shaped piece, which provides more surface
contact to the client than the air tube. It also allows for movement in two
axes while maintaining a stable platform (as compared to a therapy ball) for
therapeutic activities. The small pillow is ideal for the younger/smaller
child while the large pillow will accommodate larger children or adults.
These pieces are used primarily for
static positioning and are not suitable for more vigorous activities such as
bouncing or jumping. The air wedge offers the therapist several advantages
over the traditional foam wedge. Because it is air filled, it is lightweight
and relatively easy to move. Therefore, it is possible for one person to move
the large air wedge within the treatment area. In order to move a foam wedge
of similar size, two or more individuals might be required. Air wedges can be
quickly deflated for transportation, they are ideal for the itinerant
therapist who utilizes this type of equipment. They also provide a more
comfortable resting surface because the wedge is able to compress and
"mold itself" to the client. As a result, he/she is able to stay on
the wedge longer without experiencing discomfort. The large wedge is an ideal
surface for someone prone to skin breakdown.
The air mattress is probably one of the
few pieces of inflatable equipment, which will be familiar to the reader.
Several types can be found in most equipment catalogs and they are available
in several sizes and shapes. The major drawbacks to air mattresses are their
cost and high degree of complexity. Most types require special blowers to keep
them inflated, which are expensive and quite noisy to use.
Comfaire Products has developed an air
mattress, which eliminates many of the problems previously mentioned. This
mattress costs less than most of the other types and can be inflated using any
of the methods described in this handbook. The mattress consists of two
chambers, an outer perimeter chamber and an inner flotation chamber. In order
to increase the effectiveness of the mattress, the outer chamber must be
firmly inflated first. This chamber stabilizes the mattress and provides a
place for the therapist to sit. The inner chamber can then be inflated to any
level of firmness. This item provides an excellent surface for rest and
relaxation activities. The air mattress is available in two sizes; both are
ten inches in depth. Because they can be easily inflated or deflated they are
ideal for the clinic with limited storage facilities.