A Look at Kinesio® Taping

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By: Munira Adenwalla, Pediatric Occupational Therapist / Certified Kinesio® Taping Practitioner

David Beckham, Serena Williams and Lance Armstrong all use Kinesio® Tape and so do the kids I treat.

Kinesio Tape is an elastic, cotton, water-resistant tape developed by Dr. Kenzo Kase in 1973. It was first used in Japan on athletes to enhance their sports performance and for faster recovery from injuries.

I have used Kinesio® Taping with babies and young children for the past eight years after taking the course. I’m not affiliated with the Kinesio Taping Association, however I find it to be a valuable adjunct to treatment for infants to older children.

Kinesio tape is applied over and around specific muscles to provide joint support and muscle re-education. The tape can be stretched 40-60% gently ‘pulling’ on the skin and causing the muscles underneath to strengthen. It comes in beige, blue, pink and black and varies in width from one to three inches.

The thickness and weight of the tape is designed to be similar to that of skin so it is comfortable and non-invasive.

Benefits of Kinesio Taping for Children:

  • improve body and muscle alignment for motor skills development
  • support and strengthen weak muscles, reducing fatigue
  • relax tight muscles and increase range of motion
  • stabilize joints proximally for increased distal control
  • provide sensory input for body awareness ?
  • improve gross motor, fine motor, oral-motor and self-help skills

Who can Benefit?

As therapists, we tailor treatments based on a child’s unique strengths, needs and goals rather than their diagnosis.

Generally, Kinesio taping helps babies and children with neuromuscular, orthopaedic, developmental delays or medical conditions such as:

  • Delays in gross motor, fine motor, self-help and sensory processing skills
  • Down’s Syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy, Hemiplegia, Brain Injury
  • Hypotonia (low muscle tone), Hypermobility syndrome, joint instability
  • Torticollis
  • Brachial Plexus Injury / Erb’s Palsy
  • Various physical disabilities and neurological impairments
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder / Dyspraxia
  • Autism
  • Sensory Processing Disorder
  • ………..and more

Initial Assessment

Therapist will enquire about child’s background and medical history, previous therapies and developmental milestones. They should then further assess:

  • body alignment and movement patterns in different positions such as lying on back or stomach, sitting and standing
  • range of motion limitations, muscle imbalances, joint stability, sensory processing and its effect on gross motor, fine motor and self-help skills
  • primary concerns of parent, child and teacher to prioritize goals

Treatment Process

First, a test patch is applied to monitor the skin’s response and integrity.

Prior to taping, deep tissue massage, shoulder mobilizations or stretches may be used to relax muscles and prepare the body. Taping can be used alongside splinting and other treatment techniques.

Next, the therapist determines which muscle groups or joints to strengthen to attain desired skills and developmental milestones. No more than three areas should be taped at once.

The child’s alignment and movement patterns are frequently re-assessed to determine which techniques are most beneficial. As they progress, taping applications change to support new skills and goals.

Following tape application, the child engages in functional activities to support their therapeutic goals. For example, if tape has been applied to strengthen wrist muscles, they may do activities like pushing up on hands from stomach, upper extremity weightbearing or colouring on an upright easel.

Kinesio tape is worn continually for 3-5 days and left off for 1-2 days to allow the skin to “breathe.” The tape is water resistant so the child can bathe or swim. It’s easiest to remove the tape during bath time or after being soaked in oil or lotion. Parents are instructed in tape removal and application as appropriate.
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Actual Case Examples:

***Kinesio Taping was used as an adjunct to treatment with therapeutic exercises.*** Carlos was a nine-month old baby who was born prematurely at 28-weeks and recently diagnosed with Hypotonia (low muscle tone). He did not like tummy time, had difficulty lifting his head and avoided using his arms to play. Kinesio tape was applied to Carlos’ stomach and shoulder muscles to develop core strength and shoulder stability so that he could then use his arms for exploration. He was then better able to lift his head and push up on his hands while on his stomach, roll from back to stomach, and reach for his parents’ face or toys.

Kelly was a 4-year old girl with Hemiplegia who avoided using her left arm to hold and manipulate toys, and kept it protectively at her side. She struggled with two-handed tasks such as playing ball, climbing at the park or holding her cup. Her parents were concerned Kelly often lost her balance, tired quickly, was easily distracted and her arm felt so tight. Taping was first applied to stomach, shoulder and hip muscles to increase core strength and joint stability so she could sit upright in her chair for longer and use her left arm to hold her paper still while colouring. As Kelly’s core muscles became stronger, she tired less and focused more on tasks.

Later, we taped Kelly’s left forearm, wrist and fingers to increase sensory awareness to her affected, turn her forearm and open fingers. She could then hold onto a ball with both hands, reach up to hold rungs of a climbing ladder and grasp smaller objects. Overall, due to the support provided by Kinesio tape, Kelly was more willing to do activities she previously refused, complete motor skills with more strength and less effort, and be more aware of her affected side.
(Above names have been changed for confidentiality.)

Conclusion

Kinesio Taping:

  1. allows a child to receive therapeutic benefits 24 hours/day with comfort
  2. does NOT restrict movement
  3. is economical at approximately £10 or $15/roll
  4. complimentary to other therapies including NDT (Neurodevelopmental Treatment / Bobath). Sensory Integration, splinting, Hippo- and Aquatic Therapies

Kinesio taping is an effective and valuable treatment for children simply with delayed milestones to more complex sensory and motor impairments. It should be applied by a Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner with strong background in pediatric anatomy, neurology and body biomechanics.

Featured Author: Munira Adenwalla, Pediatric OT

Munira Adenwalla is an American trained Pediatric Occupational Therapist treating children with neurological, orthopaedic and developmental challenges. She is Sensory Integration and Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT) Certified, as well as a Kinesio® Taping Certified Practitioner. She works with children from birth to five years in London, England. Her website is: www.ot4kids.co.uk

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