Photo: Janelle Niebeling, Occupational Therapist, OTR/L, Hudson Hospital Rehabilitation Center found the Rainbow Loom weaving set to be effective treatment and motivation for patient Madelyn Ridway in her recovery therapy.
From teens to seniors, one of the new “must have” items on the market, the Rainbow Loom, offers more than just crafting fun – its therapeutic benefits motivate patients. Occupational therapist Janelle Niebeling, OTR/L, Hudson Hospital Rehabilitation Center uses this product as part of treatment plans for certain patients. She remembered seeing the Rainbow Loom advertised on television and thought it would be perfect to help Madelyn, a 14-year-old client improve her fine motor control after having a tumor removed. “I really wanted to find something fun and motivating for her—something that wasn’t just putting pegs into a pegboard,” says Niebeling.
The Rainbow Loom, and other products like it, is a tool for weaving together rubber bands into colorful bracelets. Occupational therapists are excited by the Rainbow Loom’s ability to address multiple skills simultaneously, including motor planning coordination, muscle strengthening, problem-solving, and visual motor cognition, as well as its ability to motivate young clients.
“This tool provides opportunity for patients to strengthen small motor skills,” says Niebeling, whose client’s hands were so shaky as a result of her tumor removal that she couldn’t even carry a cup of water without spilling it. “You have to be able to take these small rubber bands and then stretch them over pegs and make them stay there and then use a little tool to dig underneath some rubber bands and pull up the bottom one and make sure the top one stays on. And sometimes you have to use both hands to do that. With other crafts you might not have to have as coordinated motions.” The product can also be used for clients who have different levels of ability and builds confidence with each application.