For us, the Playpak by Firefly was that item.
(We also own the GoTo seat and Upsee, also made by Firefly. I'll include two shots of at the end of this post, but they really deserve features of their own, so those will come in due time.)
We can use it for tummy and back activities too, but the best help the Playpak offers Zoe is in sitting. All the pieces can be configured in different ways, depending on the child and the purpose. For example, I wanted to stretch her abductors in addition to working on sitting, so I used the orange piece to spread her legs into a prolonged static stretch (and also used on knee immoblizer we already had to keep her knee from bending up and out of the stretch).
Zoe doesn't sit independently yet, but her trunk control is pretty good and her core is growing stronger day by day. With so little stability on her own, sometimes sitting progress hits a plateau, and I'm confident the Playpak is going to be just the external stabilizer she needs as she learns to do more and more on her own.
Prior to her SDR surgery, the tightness in her hanstrings rotated her hips forward when sitting, causing her back to reflexively pull back. (Note: the blue therapy bench in several of these pictures is a different product, but I'll link to that below.)
Now that spasticity is gone, but her body has to un-learn that reflex as it gets strong enough to sit without support.
This is part ab workout system, part seating support system.
The best gift the Playpak gives Zoe? Independence.
Thank you for that, Firefly.
(Even if we do use that independence for snacking during Barney.)
The Playpak isn't just for passive sitting, though. For this next series of play pictures, I used the strap instead of the larger curved piece so that Zoe could lean forward more.
All the pieces can be positioned as your child needs, using secure velcro.
How secure? Well, for the first time in Zoe's life with us, I left the room to do a couple things while she was sitting and playing.
I've never been able to do that before. She's never had the freedom to just sit and play with her sister, something most three year olds have been doing for quite some time.
THIS. This is a beautiful first, y'all.
Behind Zoe in the picture above, you can see a few pieces we weren't using this time. To give a little more flexible support, I used the orange piece behind her back, setting aside the small yellow support piece, and the yellow strap in front instead of the green curved piece. This time, we also didn't use the blue head pillow which is best for activities done when lying down.
She felt secure in playing without thinking too much about sitting, which is exactly how kids ought to feel.
The Playpak looks bright and fun and welcoming, so her sister wasn't intimidated by it at all. In other words, it's a help and not a barrier to playing with peers!
(Our sweet girls have no idea that every bedroom shared by three year old sisters isn't full of therapy equipment!)
Such precious smiles!
Such secure sitting!
Such fun play!
Now to the details: the Playpak includes a carrying case that doubles as a mat. Inside, the red horseshoe, green horseshoe, orange support piece, yellow support piece, yellow support strap, and blue head cushion are packed in the mat, which also includes loops for toys to be attached.
All of the pieces fit together
so they can be zipped and carried easily.
Seriously, the case is ultra light and easy to transport. I was skeptical about that. But, truly, this whole thing can be easily transported from place to place.
The outer part includes a few small pockets, and so far the manual is the only thing I regularly tuck in there. This booklet is helpful with lots of tips and illustrations, so I like to have it easily accessible.
And Firefly's slogan? It's not a gimmick; it's honest. What they make makes so much more possible for my girl.
To learn more about the Firefly products shown here...
About the Playpak ($449)
About the GoTo Seat ($265-299, depending on size, available in pink, green, and blue)
About the Upsee ($489, available in different sizes and colors)
To buy any of those products or others from Firefly
LiteGait harness system (contact them for a quote)
LiteGait GaitKeeper Mini treadmill (contact them for a quote)
Kaye adjustable therapy bench (shop around for the best price; ours was $153 from Amazon)
Disclaimer: This Playpak was given to us from Firefly for review purposes, but my opinion is all my own and I gave no guarantees of a positive review.