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Walk the Plank

Balance is such an important part of a neurodevelopmental program. It cannot be stressed enough. There are real basic balance exercises like getting out of a chair, turning around the body in a complete 360 degree turn and sitting back down again. Walk the plank can be considered a basic balance exercise but it is more complex than getting in and out of a chair.

Walk the Plank involves the use of a 10 foot long 1 by 4 wooden board and a sheet of paper that has random letters and numbers on it. The participant walks heel to toe on the board calling out a letter or number with each step. When the participant reaches the end of the board, they walk backwards heal to toe while continuing to call out a number or letter with each step.

Step by Step Instructions: Walk the Plank.

1. Have a 10 foot 1 by 4 board perpendicular to a wall with a chart at eye level with random letters and numbers on the chart. The letters and numbers should be large enough for the participant to read them from 10 feet of distance.

2. The participant stands on the far end of the board and starts walking heal to toe towards the chart and calling out a letter or number. The chart is to be read left to right, top to bottom (just as one reads a book in the United States). In China the chart can be read from right to left, bottom to top if desired. It is important to monitor the participant to insure they are calling out the right number or letter with each step.

3. Try to get the participant in a rhythm or cadence as the participant gets acclimated to this exercise. The use of a metronome (actual or digital) may be needed.

4. When the participant reaches the end of the board, they attempt to go backwards heal touching toe on each step and they continue to look forward and call out a letter or number. They attempt to make the transition without losing a beat of their rhythm or cadence.

5. The exercise is finished when the participant is back at the starting point. Some may wish to repeat the exercise. Two times is usually enough for a day.

6. This exercise is mastered when the participant can close their eyes, continue to walk up and down the plank calling numbers out by memory (as if they were reading the chart with their eyes open) and not losing their balance and not missing a beat or getting out of rhythm.

Exercise:Walk the Plank.

Time: about 2 to 5 minutes.

Recommended Frequency: once or twice a day, 5 or 6 days a week until step 6 has been mastered.

Materials Needed: a 10 foot long 1 by 4 board, a sheet of paper with random letters and numbers on it.

Pretest Assessment: participant has poor balance as compared to other age peers. They may also have poor reading skills.

Mastery: participant can walk forward and backward on the board without losing their balance, with eyes closed and calling out the correct letter and number using visual memory.

Additional comments: Try to insure that the participant is accurate in calling out the letters and numbers. Also make sure the toe and the heal touch each other during each step. This increases the balance demand and improves the individuals sense of body in space.

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