Drum Circle Group Activity

Submitted by Loupel Antiquiera, DOR, and Laura Kramer, COTA/L, Pacific Care Center, Hoquiam, WA

Laura Kramer, OT, provided the following exercise to promote OT month.

Residents are provided with a yoga ball placed on a base (like a round laundry basket) and a pair of drumsticks with instructions to follow the leader in a set of coordinated movements with lively music that has a strong musical beat. The variations of instructions may be tailored to the residents’ limitations and therapeutic goals. It can be upgraded or downgraded to tolerance throughout the task, with the therapist monitoring signs of fatigue or pain, cueing residents to rest if needed.

As the therapist, I may begin by explaining the benefits of the activity, which can include increased circulation, cardio exercise, targeted joint range of motion, music appreciation and most of all fun, but I always preface with “If it hurts, don’t do it.” Coordinated movements may include:

  • Elbow flexion only while drumming on the ball; downgrade to just wrist flexion if necessary to tap out the rhythm of the music
  • Knee up both right, then left
  • Reaching far right/far left, targeting shoulder abduction and trunk stability
  • Hands up with crossing drumsticks
  • Drumming to the beat, either slow or medium or double speed
  • One-handed (one-sided)

Overall, the benefits I’ve observed are promising, with most patients demonstrating very good attention and following directions, and some will even become happy to lead a set of instructions and take turns to try out their own combination. Some find the activity too simple and ask to leave, and one resident commented she thought it “felt like kindergarten, but it was still fun I guess.” However, this same resident actively participated again and was observed having fun. One resident required closer observation d/t asthma; her O2 sats dropped too low, and she was returned to her room with nursing notified for breathing tx’s. One pt reported BUE shoulder pain d/t OA.