Although coloring pictures with pencils or markers seems like child's play, it is actually more complicated than most people realize. Physically, coloring takes a certain amount of hand and arm strength to hold the colored pencils, and move the hand across the page. Trunk strength and endurance are also required for a person to sit up long enough to complete the project. Visuospatial skills are used to look back and forth on the page and track from the object to be colored to the color of pencil desired. Behind the physical aspect of coloring is the brain and cognition including attention, problem solving, and both procedural and working memory.
So how does this tie in with rehab and therapy? For starters, the Allen Cognitive Levels Dementia Program includes the mode "color in the heart" activity to assist clinicians with realistic goal setting. From a physical, occupational, or speech therapy perspective, we often set goals addressing visual neglect, hand grip, truck strength, attention, memory, and cognition. One of my favorite ways to target these skills is with coloring. Its fun, engaging, and no one ever turns down a chance to color or draw in therapy!
If coloring in therapy is new to you, or if coloring is one of your favorite therapy interventions already, take a look at these coloring pages and books designed for use in therapy:
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