Author: Emma O'Brien

Metronome Therapy for People with Parkinson’s

Published on December 21, 2022

What is Metronome Therapy and how does it work?

In a healthy brain, the pathways that cue movement are sending messages to your body saying “step, step, step”. In Parkinson’s, this pathway might be hampered or damaged. With metronome therapy, we are using a ‘beat’, specific to your walk, to help you take each step.

How is the Beats Medical walking therapy different to a normal metronome?

Metronome therapy, or walking to a specific beat, has been used in the treatment of Parkinson’s for 50 years. The Beats Medical app allows you to get a uniquely tailored beat each day at home, it would not be feasible to visit a hospital or clinic every single day.

Why would the beat need to change every day?

As no two people with Parkinson’s are the same, and symptoms can change from day to day, the treatment changes each day to suit you. There are no good or bad scores; your beat can vary depending on how you’re walking that day.

How do I use the Beats Medical walking therapy?

1. Open the beats Medical application, open the walking therapy and start the calibration period.

2. Put your device in your front, trouser pocket and walk, uninterrupted, for 2 minutes, until you hear a loud sound, marking the end of calibration.

3. Take the device from your pocket to view your individually prescribed beat. Set the timer and start the therapy.

4. Place the phone back in your front trouser pocket and step your feet in time with the beat.

5. Once you have practiced walking in time to the beat, the Beats Medical support team will introduce additional elements for you to focus on. This can include heel strike, arm swing, posture and turns.

What will this do for me?

This can help you to improve your mobility, stride length, speed and the quality of your walk.

Is it proven to work/ to be safe?

All of the treatments we provide are evidence based. There is over 50 years of research demonstrating the effectiveness of ‘auditory cueing’ for people with Parkinson’s. To read more, this research paper examined metronome therapy in detail, published in the renowned ‘Nature’ journal in January 2018.

Tips for Teaching Self-Help Skills

Published on December 20, 2022

Children with dyspraxia are perfectly capable of learning alongside their peers, they may just need some extra attention and support from time to time. Awareness is the first step and can make all of the difference in helping a child reach his or her full potential at school.

Parents and teachers can help students with learning difficulties by recognizing the root cause of a child’s performance issues and providing appropriate support, to make it easier for the dyspraxic child to be successful in the classroom.

These tips can help with providing the appropriate support for kids with Dyspraxia:

1. Attention – Minimize distractions and use a quiet space

2. Simple Steps – Break the task you’re teaching into manageable steps

3. Use visual images or photographs – These can help with the understanding process

4. Demonstrate – Show and tell. Doing the task with your child can help greatly

5. Consistent wording – This will help in connecting the understanding of the various steps

6. Encouragement – Try to promote self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment

7. Offer choice if possible – A choice in the process may allow for a more memorable experience for your child

8. Patience – Allow extra time and understand that tasks mightn’t be learned quickly

9. Repetition – Repeated tasks are more likely to be remembered

Tips for Teachers

Published on December 20, 2022

Dyspraxia is a learning difficulty that affects the brain’s ability to plan sequences of movement and is a condition that leads to many varied difficulties. It affects about 6% of the population, of which three times as many boys are affected as girls.

Although Dyspraxia cannot be ‘treated’, teachers can help children cope with the effects.

1. Seat the child near the front of the class. Walking around the room can also deliver the information to the student.

2. Slowly give instructions and repeat if required. The more succinct the instructions the better. Break the instructions into steps and have them write them down.

3. Positive reinforcement and encouragement are very important.

4. Allow more time for tasks to be completed.

5. If the material is needed to be copied, do so from a written handout rather than from the board.

6. Order and organization are important, promote the use of folders to keep material together.

7. Help younger students or those with greater fine motor difficulty with fine motor tasks like cutting and writing.

8. Break up the day with short bursts of physical activity. This can greatly help concentration and relieve stress.

9. Promote good posture.

10. The feedback itself can be very helpful but it is also important that feedback is viewed as constructive rather than critical.

11. Use various writing aids to help your students with writing tasks.

Tips for Parent/Teacher Communication

Published on December 20, 2022

When your child has Dyspraxia, it’s important to talk with his teacher about it. Understanding what your child struggles with allows the teacher to find ways for your child to be successful in the classroom. These tips can help guide the conversation.

1. Meet with each other at the beginning of the year. This gives the teacher an opportunity to adapt strategies they might have to best benefit your child.

2. Some teachers mightn’t be aware of Dyspraxia/DCD, explain what DCD is for your child.

3. Suggest personal strategies that work well for you.

4. Discuss how their Dyspraxia can affect gross and fine motor skills.

5. Discuss how their Dyspraxia can affect their speech and body position.

6. Share developmental strategies and progress plans together.

7. Discuss how your child has progressed.

8. Ensure both sides are encouraging, using similar language, and on the same wavelength.

9. Share your child’s strengths, interests.

10. Work together to best help your child and put them on the right developmental path.

Spatial understanding and awareness games

Published on December 20, 2022

Children with dyspraxia/DCD often find team sports particularly challenging. Apart from the physical difficulty of manipulating equipment such as a bat, having a good aim or catching or kicking a ball, their difficulties often result in: a struggle of constantly observing their surroundings, reacting quickly to the changing environment, maneuvering themselves around others and the pitch, and many more.

These game ideas can be more fun and helpful for kids with Dyspraxia rather than causing stress or anxiety.

1. Zigsaws

2. Block building (e.g. Lego)

3. Mazes

4. Matching games (will help reading comprehensions later in life)

5. Drawing / painting / dot-to-dot

6. ‘Simon Says’ with directions to turn right/left/stop at the door etc.

7. Make 3D models

8. Descriptive games – which hand is the ball in?

9. Jump into a hoop or circle?

10. Which item is furthest?

Planning & Organisation

Published on December 20, 2022

Motor planning refers to a child’s ability to organise, plan, and then carry out new or unfamiliar tasks. It is the first step in learning new skills and requires accurate information from all sensory systems of the body, and mature body awareness, perception of movement and awareness of space. It is the ability by which we figure out how we use our hands and body in skilled tasks like playing with toys, using a pencil, building a structure with lego, using a fork or cycling our bike, etc.

These tips can help children get trough their daily routines without stress and be well organised.

1. Stick to a daily routine

2. Make sure your schedule gives you enough extra time to get places

3. Reminders like post-its or electronic alarms

4. Specific play and workspace

5. Folders for each school subject or task (e.g. Homework)

6. See-through pencil cases or purses

7. Keep keys and purses on a chain attached to clothing

8. Use colour association with various tasks (colour coding)

9. Whiteboards at home for big reminders

10. Carry a notebook so you can write down things that are asked of you

11. Label everything and a list where everything is

5 Ways to Calm Your Mind

Published on December 20, 2022

Sometimes you might have too much happening in your life and you need to unclutter all of the activity happening in your head. Here are some suggestions for calming a cluttered and anxious mind.

1. Practice Mindfulness or Meditation.

You have probably heard this suggestion before. How can think about all of the crazy thoughts help calm you down? It is a matter of observing these thoughts and not dwelling on them. Merely recognize that they are there and then let them float away. Try to set aside a short amount of time every day in a quiet area. Build upon your time the more often that you do it.

2. Disconnect.

I know this is going to become harder and harder, but sometimes you just need to disconnect from all the technology that is becoming more integrated into our lives. Log off your social media accounts and you will be surprised how free you will feel after a few hours that you are not needing to constantly check your phone.

3. Listen to soothing music.

Try to find an artist whose music is uplifting and mellow and give it a listen. Nothing too heavy! Music is a great way to help relax both your mind and your body.

4. Track the good things.

A great exercise is to keep a notebook and track the things that you are grateful for at the end of each day. Also, try to track anything that you have done in your day that positively affected another person. This is a great way to appreciate the small things and value the present.

5. Take a bath.

Turn on the warm water and load up on the suds! This is a great way to spend some time letting your thoughts drift away and refresh yourself in a nice warm bubble bath.

Best Exercises for Improving Coordination

Published on December 20, 2022

Just because you have poor coordination does not mean you are hopeless. Try out some of these exercises on a regular basis and track your results! NOTE: Be careful and mind your safety at all times.

1. Balance on one leg

This is the exercise that everyone thinks of when you begin to talk about balance. Easy to do, as it requires no equipment. If you are afraid of falling, stand close enough to a stabilizing object so that you can catch yourself before you do fall.

2. Hopscotch

The ultimate old-school playground game, this is a great way to improve your balance. Grab some chalk and find some room on a driveway or footpath and test out your playground skills!

3. Heel-to-toe walk

This is exactly what it sounds like. Find a nice flat surface that you can walk on. Bonus if there is a straight line you can walk on. Place your dominant foot down first and then follow it with your next foot, putting your heel as close to your big toe on your dominant foot as possible without stepping on it. Proceed to walk in a straight line, turn, and repeat.

4. Juggling

Just because this is something that you’d see at the circus doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take this recommendation seriously. Juggling is a great way to improve your hand-eye coordination. Just promise us you will start with something light and soft before you move on to the flaming swords!

5. Work on aiming

Using a bucket/ basket and a tennis ball/ small ball, Start 5 feet away from the bucket and try tossing the ball into it. Each time you get the ball into the bucket take a step back, see how far you can get it in from.

Best Exercises to Improve Finger Dexterity and Hand Movement.

Published on December 20, 2022

Here are some ways that you can improve your hand movement and dexterity at home.

1. Grab a squeeze ball

If you have ever been to any kind of event where free swag has been given out, then you probably have an extra stress squeeze ball somewhere. Give one of these balls a squeeze and hold your grip for a couple of seconds before releasing. Repeat this for 10-12 reps and then repeat with your opposite hand.

2. O Exercise

Touch your index finger to your thumb, forming an O. Now, repeat this with your middle finger, ring finger, and pinky. Once you have made it to your pinky, work your way back up to your index finger.

3. Switching fingers

Lay your palm flat on a surface. Raise your thumb up while keeping your palm flat on the table. If you need to, use your other hand to help raise it further and hold for 10 seconds. Feel the stretch at the base of your finger. Proceed to do this with each finger for a couple of reps each.

4. Playing games with string

When you were a child, you might have played games with string, such as Jacob’s Ladder or Cat’s Cradle. This is a great way to give your hands and fingers a workout. All you need is some string/yarn and you are ready to go!

5. Stacking

You can do this exercise with most objects like lego blocks or coins, start by grabbing a handful of coins and stack the one at a time. Try stacking them as high as you can or work on stacking them by size. Do this exercise on both your hands.

Mental Health and Dyspraxia

Published on December 20, 2022

Although Dyspraxia is often described as a motor skills disorder, the condition can cause emotional and social difficulties for children that can negatively affect their mental health. In fact, research shows that children, teenagers, and adults with Dyspraxia are at an increased risk of experiencing mental health disorders than their typically developing peers.

There are a number of reasons that may explain this:

  • Children with dyspraxia may not like to participate in group activities and sports for fear of being ridiculed about their poor motor coordination. This can cause them to withdraw from group activities, leading to social isolation.
  • Difficulties with organisation and fine motor skills may impact on a child’s ability to perform to their full potential in school, despite normal intelligence. This can be very frustrating for someone with Dyspraxia, and the pressure to keep up with school work may cause them a lot of stress.
  • Communication difficulties may impact a child’s ability to express themselves fully or to participate in discussions in school or social settings. Again, this may cause social anxiety and withdrawal from socialising with peers.
  • Communication difficulties may also lead to children internalising their feelings. Talking to someone about issues is so important for positive mental health. Keeping everything bundled up inside can be damaging for a child’s mental health.
  • Poor awareness of Dyspraxia amongst the general public, with it often being mistaken for Dyslexia or clumsiness, has been shown to be another factor that causes frustration and stress for young people with Dyspraxia. Young people often feel misunderstood and that no one can relate to how they are feeling.

If your child is struggling with mental health issues, there are a number of things you can do to help.

Joining a local Dyspraxia support group can be a great way for your child to get involved in group activities and encourage social engagement. These also allow them to interact with people who understand their frustrations and worries and may be able to offer advice and support. Check out your local area to see if Dyspraxia Ireland has a branch near you.

Staying physically active is important for maintaining positive mental health. Gross motor exercises like the ones in the Beats Medical App are a great way to stay active while also improving your child’s motor skills! Improving motor skills may make it easier to participate in group sports or PE in school.

Simple relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or colouring can help to calm down a child who is anxious or in a panicked state.

Anxiety in children with Dyspraxia has also been linked to diet. Digestion can be affected in Dyspraxia more so than in typically developing peers. Dieticians can run special tests to determine if your child has an intolerance to certain foods.

If your child experiences persistent mental health symptoms, you should not hesitate to seek the help of a Mental Health professional. Go to to find links and resources for professional help.