Taping Tots: Using Kinesiotape in Early Intervention

Early Childhood Interventions March 11, 2014

Kinesiotape’s popularity is increasing with therapists, athletes, and the general public.  Kinesiotape was once known only to orthopedic physical therapists who applied the tape skillfully for specific uses it is now available to the general public at any running or sports store.  There are many on-line resources such as YouTube videos available demonstrating the uses and application of kinesiotape to solve everything from shin splints to tempomandibular joint pain.  Although popular the use of kinesiotape in adults and athletes has not been proven to be effective. 1 The use of kinesiotape with children, especially those with developmental disabilities or delays has not even been studied.

So is there a case to use kinesiotape in EI?

Kinesiotape is often used to promote alignment either with children with torticollis or decreased abdominal control.  The research, based on few small population studies, indicates that kinesiotape may be beneficial for use with children with  torticollis to reduce the asymmetrical position of their head 2.  The tape can be applied to relax (or inhibit) the tight sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM).  Alternately tape can be applied to encourage contraction (or facilitation) of the weaker or lengthened opposite lateral flexor muscles.

Applying tape to young children can be challenging for parents and therapists, for that reason it is often used as an adjunct to an intervention, applied by the therapist with instruction to the family on removing it.  When used for children whose muscles have adequate range of motion the “facilitation” technique can help cue kids through tactile pressure to activate the SCM.  The tape serves as a tactile reminder to maintain proper alignment.

Example of facilitating the lengthened SCM: image from  http://ot4kids.co.uk/kinesio-taping/benefits

Child with diffculty flexing and turning head with kinesco taping


Children with decreased abdominal control and decreased muscular endurance, are more likely to have trunk deviations affecting their sitting balance and overall stability.  While there have not been any large pediatric population studies examining the benefit of using kinesiotape for abdominal control it is commonly applied by therapists.  Studies that have examined the effect of kinesiotape on sitting posture in children with cerebral palsy have been inconclusive.  Ssimssek and Mazzone found improvements in sitting posture and improved arm movements3,4, although Footer5  found no benefit.  Children need adequate abdominal strength and need to maintain the abdominal contraction to independently roll, sit, crawl and walk efficiently.  Kinesiotape can act as a tactile reminder to contract the abdominals and prevent any deviations in trunk alignment.  Taping techniques to encourage use of the abdominals is easily replicated by parents once they are instructed.

The use of kinesiotape in young children demands research and clear data collection from those of us who are using it in practice.

    Do you use kinesiotape in your practice?
  • What techniques do you use or what do you find beneficial or useless about it?
  • How are you collecting data to determine its effectiveness?

References

  1.  Morris D, Jones D, Ryan H, Ryan CG. (2012). The clinical effects of Kinesio(®) Tex taping: A systematic review. Physiotherapy Theory and  Practice, 259-270.
  2. Ohman A. The immediate effect of kinesiology taping on muscular imbalance for infants with congenital muscular torticollis. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 4:504-508.
  3. ŞŞimşşek TT, Türkücüoğğlu B, Çokal N, Üstünbaşş G, and ŞŞimşşek İE. (2011). The effects of Kinesio® taping on sitting posture, functional independence and gross motor function in children with cerebral palsy. Disability and Rehabilitation, 33 : 2058-2063.
  4. Mazzone SSerafini AIosa MAliberti MNGobbetti TPaolucci SMorelli D. (2011). Functional taping applied to upper limb of children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy: a pilot study, 42(6):249-53.
  5. Footer CB. (2006). The effects of therapeutic taping on gross motor function in children with cerebral palsy. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 18: 245-52.

 

– Erin Wentzell