Pediatric Occupational Therapy
What is Pediatric Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy addresses a child’s ability to function in the everyday tasks that someone of the same age typically encounters. For younger children, this may be learning to play with toddler toys, drinking from a bottle, and rolling over. A pre-school child’s daily tasks are about learning to dress themselves, feed themselves, and play with other children. As children get older, occupational therapy ensures that they can function as independently as possible in all their self-care tasks as well as during the school day. OT may address a child’s needs through developmental activities, fine motor tasks, sensory integration, visual motor tasks, gross motor play, or other skill based tasks.
Our Pediatric Occupational Therapists (OT) work with children and infants who have problems in cognitive functions, movement and coordination. These young patients could be living with a wide range of conditions such as neurological complaints, orthopedic injuries, spinal cord damage, muscular dystrophy or other motor disorders.
The work of a pediatric occupational therapist involves analyzing and treating skeletal, neuromuscular or cognitive restrictions of their young patients and helping them in developing their interaction and communication skills, refinement of motor skills and educating them in self-care skills, especially for older children. Most of the patients are too young to understand verbal instructions, so games are often incorporated in the therapy. This helps to engage their interest and cooperation. It is imperative to have the commitment and support of the family as well.
Occupational Therapy Treatments
Aquatic therapy is water-based physical, occupational and speech therapy treatment. It includes exercise or therapeutic activity/movement that benefits our patients who exhibit difficulty with weight bearing activities or have an inability to move their bodies against the weight of gravity. This could have been caused by injuries or physical disability. The water allows buoyancy, helps reduce joint pain and provides resistance during therapy based activity. All disciplines have been trained including physical, occupational and speech therapists.
Each discipline uses this environment to help meet the outcomes specific to the goals set for the patient. We utilize many aquatic therapy techniques and principles including NDT-based aquatic techniques, Bad Ragaz Ring Method, Halliwick, Watsu-type movements and general swim stroke training modifications.
Occupational therapists address these delays during treatment utilizing play activities where the child may not realize they are working on skill development. As occupational therapists, our goal in all treatments is to find meaningful and purposeful activities that motivate the child to reach their full potential.
Based on clinically proven outcomes, iLs programs strengthen existing pathways and create new neural connections/pathways in the brain (“neuroplasticity”). As these neurological connections grow stronger, language skills and emotional/psychological functions, such as self-confidence and regulation, also tend to improve. The improvements in brain function are based on the premise that our higher brain functions – the “cortical functions” such as language, cognitive skills, socialization – rely and depend upon how well sensory input is received and processed as it enters the central nervous system and is relayed to the upper brain. iLs improves processing at both the sub-cortical and cortical levels.
The design of iLs programs is based around the listening component. Each product has a specific listening schedule, into which the balance and visual activities are included. These “integrating” activities compromise 15-20 minutes of each listening session, and are explained in a Playbook which accompanies each product. iLs clinic programs are typically 20-40 sessions in length, with a frequency of 3 or more sessions per week. Each session is 60-80 minutes long with 15-20 minutes allotted for the integration activities. The balance of each session is spent doing creative and/or relaxing activities such as drawing, puzzles, fine-motor games, or just relaxing in a comfortable chair. iLs home programs are designed to be flexible with listening sessions at either 30 or 60 minutes in length. The entire program is typically completed over a 3-month period.
Reach Therapy is an NDTA Center of Excellence(NDTCOE). As an NDTCOE, Reach partners with NDTA in education dedicated to training as many therapists as possible in the Neuro-Developmental Treatment Approach. In addition to our trained staff, Reach has hosted many NDTA courses including the 8-week pediatric certification course. Because of our dedication and commitment to this treatment philosophy, we have been named one of the first facilities designated as an NDTA “Center of Excellence”.
Our sensory system is the way we perceive the world around us, and if our sensory system is not working properly it affects us negatively. Anyone can have sensory dysfunction. Our senses include touch, hearing sight, taste, smell, gravity, joint and muscle movement. Sensory Integration is a neurological process that provides us with the ability to combine all of these senses and enables us to appropriately interact with people and the environment. Sensory integration is a part of normal development for most children through play and everyday activities. In children who lack the integration, we see development delays, learning deficits, feeding difficulties and behavior problems. These deficits may occur due to their inability to process sensory information appropriately. Sensory integration is frequently utilized as a treatment for sensory issues in child autism.
Sensory integration therapy is careful to not provide children with more sensory stimulation than they can cope with. The therapist looks for signs of distress. Children with lower sensitivity (hyposensitivity) may be exposed to strong sensations, while children with heightened sensitivity (hypersensitivity) may be exposed to quieter activities. Treats and rewards may be used to encourage children to tolerate activities they would normally avoid. Go to www.sinetwork.org for more information on Sensory Integration therapy or watch this video.
Samonas Sound Therapy is a scientifically and artistically structured auditory intervention program that uses music, voice and nature sounds to re-map and restore the brain’s ability to process sound. Ingo Steinbach, a German sound engineer with a broad background in music, physics and electronics, developed this method through 20 years of research.
Used by over 3,000 practitioners worldwide, Samonas Auditory intervention has proven effective in children and adults of all ages. Because Samonas is a home-based therapy program, it can be done at any time of the day, in the place where your child is most comfortable: your home. The auditory system is linked to many parts of the mind/body system. Due to this linking, the effects of sound therapy can be far reaching. Therapists, parents and educators have witnessed positive change in areas such as learning disabilities, auditory processing, sensory integration, attention and focus, balance/coordination and memory, language and communications.
Samonas is an individualized sound therapy program that combines the essential elements of music, sound and science in specialized recordings.
Go to http://www.samonas.com/H03/H03a.html for more information.
Seven “sub-areas” under the term visual perception include visual discrimination, visual memory, visual spatial relationships, visual form constancy, visual sequential memory, visual figure ground and visual closure. It is important to note that visual perceptual deficits cannot be remediated with practice. Therapeutic activities are designed to help children compensate for visual perceptual deficits and assist them to capitalize on their visual perceptual strengths. If you suspect your child has a visual perceptual processing problem, you should request an evaluation by a trained professional such as an occupational therapist.
Assessments include the non-motor test of visual perceptual skills, motor free visual perception test and Beery Test of visual perception (a sub-test of the Beery Test of Visual Motor Integration).
Julian’s Mom says…
“Occupational Therapy at Reach has helped my child improve his hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Julien’s therapist has done an excellent job in helping him to improve his quality of life”
Jazlyn’s Mother says…
“The therapists are phenomenal and truly care about a child’s goal. The plans are reasonable in advancing and will state any concerns. “Where we truly Reach for every child’s goal”. April (OT) has grown with our child and their bond is amazing. Ale (SP) has helped us find a helpful communication device. Ogechi (PT) is our new physical therapist and has already improved Jazzy’s core work. All are a blessing and work together for the best interest of my daughter and she knows who they are and loves all just by her smile when she sees them.
Jayden’s Mom says…
“Occupational therapy at Reach has helped Jayden in many ways. Slowly but surely Jayden is becoming more and more comfortable around other people besides his family. The introduction to using sign language and pictures in order to communicate is the best thing that I feel like Reach has taught my son. Jayden’s therapists are great, and very patient with Jayden. Because I know he can be a handful.”