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A Small Break from Therapy – What’s the Big Deal?

Written by: Erilda Borici and Olivia Smith

Now that warm weather has finally arrived, many children and families are eagerly awaiting the end of the school year and the beginning of the summer break. Summer is the perfect time of the year to play outside with friends and to enjoy family time.  It’s also an excellent opportunity to add additional therapy sessions to maintain progress made during the school year or to meet goals. 

When your child is in need of counseling, speech therapy, occupational therapy, ABA or physical therapy, an individualized treatment plan is created by your therapist. Therapists build a strong rapport and a trusting relationship with children through consistent time spent together.  A break in therapy disrupts their treatment plan and can delay progress.

There are multiple ways to maximize your child’s time in therapy during the summer months by participating in our multidisciplinary approach. If necessary, your child can receive various therapeutic services all under one roof. 

For children who have diagnoses of Autism, ADHD, or other developmental, cognitive, or mental health concerns, multiple therapeutic services are recommended to allow your child to reach their full potential. Apart from the convenience of having all  of your child’s services under one roof, therapists collaborate with each other to ensure consistency for your child. Coordination of care will allow your child to grow and gain skills as rapidly as possible.   

The summer months bring lots of opportunities for children to play at parks, learn to use/ride various gross motor toys such as bikes or scooters, or play at the beach. Therapy is play based so it’s fun! 

Many of our clinics have a sand table where children can learn how to build sand castles, or jungle gym equipment that they can learn to navigate safely. We teach bike riding!  Mastery of these skills during your child’s sessions provides confidence that they can participate in these activities safely and effectively outside of the clinic setting.  One of the most important goals in therapy is to have fun while skill building.

Here are some tips on maintaining consistency and getting the most out of treatment for your child.  

  • Since children are out of school, they have a lot more availability during the day to participate in therapy, and while camp and extracurricular activities are important, and great options for staying active, they cannot replace individualized therapy plans.   
  • Summer can be filled with unstructured time. For kiddos who struggle with ADHD, Autism, or Anxiety, this can be exacerbate some of their symptoms. Maintaining scheduled therapy hours provides children with consistency and routine to continue to work on their treatment goals.  
  • Rescheduling missed sessions is easier during the Summer months. (you might even be able to see a different therapist, depending on your child’s needs)  
  • Plan ahead and schedule additional sessions if you have an upcoming vacation or break, your therapist may have extra flexibility as well. 
  • Remember, school may be out, but kiddos who maintain their therapy schedules thrive when Autumn arrives! 

**Please keep in mind cancellations should be done at least 24 to 48 hours in advance, so other families also have the chance to reschedule.


NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines and Mequon! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

 

The Benefits of Contact Sports: Why Your Kids Should Participate

The football draft just completed and the season is right around the corner. And while it may not seem like it now, summer is almost here. All of this means children are and will be interested in getting out there and participating in organized contact sports. But what about the risks of a concussion or other injury? Blog-Contact Sports-Main-Portrait-01

While the risk of injury will always exist in contact sports, there are also many benefits to sports. Further, much progress has been made regarding awareness, and today, families and coaches have a better understanding of the signs and symptoms of concussions. Many experts agree that the benefits of being active and playing sports outweigh the risks of possible injury.

Benefits of organized contact sports include:

  • Respect: Children learn to listen to and respect teammates, coaches and officials. Also, children learn to follow rules and respect opponents.
  • Teamwork: Organized sports teach children to work with and help teammates in order to achieve a common goal. There is no “I” in team!
  • Discipline: Sports show children that discipline and playing by the rules are valuable assets. Penalties will only set you back!
  • Organization: Participation in organized sports teaches children how to stay organized and responsible. They have to be on time, take care of their equipment, and organize amongst themselves in order to succeed.
  • Protection: Through organized sports, children learn to protect themselves, teammates, and opponents.
  • Confidence: Organized sports improves a child’s self-image and confidence. Moreover, sports teach children that they can improve their performance through hard work and practice, a valuable lesson.

And of course, children benefit from regular exercise and activity. Organized sports increase a child’s physical health and cardiovascular conditioning and decrease the risk of childhood obesity.

Here are some ways you can keep your children safe while they participate in contact sports:

  • Be vocal about safety. Engage coaches, officials, and league organizers in conversations about safe and fair play. Discuss these topics with your children as well.
  • Ensure safe and proper equipment. Depending on the sport, make sure your child is dressed in proper equipment, such as helmets, pads, and proper footwear. Make sure all equipment fits properly in order to maximize safety! Discuss your child’s equipment with coaches and league organizers if you aren’t sure.
  • Be aware of concussion signs and symptoms. Headaches, dizziness, imbalance and nausea are the most frequent indicators of concussions. Unconsciousness is not a requirement!
  • Be aware of concussion treatment guidelines. If a concussion is suspected, stop activity immediately and have the child seen by a doctor as soon as possible. Rest, both physical and mental, are key to recovering from a concussion. That, of course, means a break from physical activity, but it also means a break from school and TV.

With awareness and proper precautions, your child can experience the many benefits of organized contact sports in a safe and fun way!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

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Moving Away from Positioning Devices in 2017

Obviously, no baby is going to spend 100% of their time playing on the floor or a mat/blanket. At some point you need to cook or shower and you need a place for the baby where they’re safe Blog-Positioning Devices-Main-Landscapefrom the toddler, the dog, or somewhere you know they won’t roll away. This is the time to use the exersaucer, sling seat, or bumbo seat; but try to limit the time spent in these devices to 20-30 minutes per day, collectively.

Here’s why you should consider moving away from positioning devices…

The biggest problem with these devices is children are placed in them well before they have the proper trunk and/or head control to really utilize them properly. With an exersaucer, most babies are also unable to place their feet flat on the bottom but are still pushing up into standing. This can increase extension tone, decrease ankle range of motion/muscle shortening, and can possibly be linked to future toe walking.

With a bumbo or sling seat, the baby is not placed in optimal sitting alignment causing poor sitting posture. While these appear to provide great support and make 4 month old babies look like they can sit independently, the truth is the device isn’t allowing your baby to utilize their core muscles to actively sit.

The bottom line is, if the positioning device is doing all the work, what is your child learning to do?

The best place for your child to play and spend the majority of their time is on the floor or on a blanket/mat. This allows them the opportunity to properly explore their environments and practice typical movement patterns like reaching for their feet, rolling to their side, rolling over, spending time in prone, pivoting, and creeping/crawling.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

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Everything Tummy Time

Parents of infants all know that they should be working on tummy time every day from an early age. However, most parents also experience difficulty consistently working on tummy time, since babies are often initially resistant to this position.Blog-Tummy Time-Main-Landscape

Below is a list of reasons why tummy time is so important, even if your child does not initially enjoy the position:

  1. Strength: When a baby is placed on her stomach, she actively works against gravity to lift her head, arms, legs and trunk up from the ground. Activating the muscle groups that control these motions and control the motor skills that your child will learn in tummy time allows for important strengthening of these muscle groups that your baby won’t be able to achieve lying on her back.
  1. Sensory development: Your child will experience different sensory input through the hands, stomach, and face when she is lying on her stomach, which is an integral part of her sensory development. When your baby is on her stomach her head is a different position than she experiences when on her back or sitting up, which helps further develop her vestibular system.
  1. Motor skill acquisition: There are a lot of motor skills that your child will learn by spending time on her stomach. Rolling, pivoting, belly crawling, and creeping (crawling on hands and knees) are just a few of many important motor skills that your child will only learn by spending time on her stomach. Along with being able to explore her environment by learning these new skills, your baby will also create important pathways in the brain to develop her motor planning and coordination that impact development of later motor skills, such as standing and walking.
  1. Head shape: Infants who spend a lot of time on their backs are at risk for developing areas of flattening along the back of the skull. It is recommended that babies sleep on their backs to decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, and since babies spend a lot of time sleeping, they are also already spending a lot of time lying flat on the back. Spending time on the tummy when awake therefore allows for more time with pressure removed from the back of the head, and also helps to develop the neck muscles to be able to independently re-position the head more frequently while lying on the back.

It is important to remember that your child should only spend time on his or her stomach when awake and supervised. Many infants are initially resistant to tummy time because it is a new and challenging position at first. However, by starting with just a few minutes per day at a young age and gradually increasing your child’s amount of tummy time, your child’s tolerance for the position will also improve.

For more tips on how to improve your child’s tummy time, watch our video!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140.

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Why Isn’t My Baby Walking?

The walking stage is a huge milestone for every child. It’s an exciting new time when your baby officially becomes a toddler. Most babies learn to walk between 12 and 15 months. A baby isBlog-Walking-Main-Landscape considered delayed in walking once they turn 18 months old. When a child is delayed in a certain gross motor skill, parents are always curious why this delay is happening.

Here are some reasons that your baby may be delayed in walking:

  • Muscle weakness and/or low muscle tone. This is the most common reason. A child who has weakness or low tone in their core and hip muscles may have difficulty with walking. Sometimes this weakness affects the earlier milestones such as crawling, pulling up to stand, and cruising. If your baby had difficulty learning early milestones, they are more likely to have difficulty with walking. A physical therapist can do exercises with your child to strengthen their muscles and help them learn to walk.
  • Orthopedic concerns. This involves the bones and joints in a child’s legs and how they are aligned. An example is hip dysplasia. These concerns are diagnosed by an orthopedic surgeon and are treated in a variety of ways.
  • Neurological concerns. This involves the nerves, muscle fibers, and nervous system of the body. An example is diplegic cerebral palsy. These types of concerns are diagnosed by a neurologist.

Orthopedic and neurologic concerns can be very scary to parents. It is important to understand that a delay in walking does not automatically mean that your child has an orthopedic or neurological disability. If you think your child is delayed in walking, speak to your pediatrician. A pediatric physical therapist can evaluate red flags for causes of delayed walking, as well as help your child to learn this skill.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140.

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Why is Toe Walking Bad?

Idiopathic toe walking is a type of walking pattern that occurs when children walk on their tip-toes instead of using the more “typical” heel first pattern. Idiopathic is a term that refers to the fact that this toe walking occurs spontaneously, usually out of habit, and is not due to another medical cause. blog-toe walking-main-landscape

A non-idiopathic cause may be cerebral palsy, autism, sensory processing disorder, muscular dystrophy or brain injury. As children learn to walk, some toe walking is to be expected. When this becomes a strong habit that they do not grow out of, or the predominant pattern as they are new walkers, then several issues can arise.

The following are negative consequences of toe walking:

  • Tight ankles or contractures can develop
  • Poor balance reactions, frequent falling
  • Muscle imbalances “up the chain” meaning decreased hip or core strength due to the different postural alignment
  • Difficulty with body mechanics including squatting or performing stairs, secondary to tight calve muscles
  • Inability to stand with heels flat on the ground
  • Pain in ankles, knees or hips due to faulty mechanics
  • Surgery, casting, night splinting or daily bracing may be necessary

While some toe walking should not be alarming, the earlier you intervene, the better. Discuss this with your pediatrician or see a physical therapist who can provide early strategies to stop the cascade of effects that can be seen later.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Importance of Tummy Time

In a national survey of 400 pediatric physical and occupational therapists, two-thirds of those surveyed say they’ve seen an increase in early motor delays in infants who spend too much time onblog-importance-of-tummy-time-main-landscape their back while awake. Tummy time is an important and essential activity for infants to develop the strength and musculature they need to achieve their milestones in gross motor development.

What is tummy time?

  • Supervised time during the day that your baby spends on their tummy while they are awake

Why does my baby need tummy time?

  • Being on his or her tummy will help develop the muscles of the shoulder, neck, trunk, and back. This, in turn, will allow your child to achieve developmental milestones such as independent sitting, crawling, and standing
  • Tummy time will help prevent conditions such as torticollis and plagiocephaly (head flattening on portions of their head)

What if my baby doesn’t like tummy time?

  • The sooner you start tummy time, the sooner your child will get used to it!
  • If your child cannot keep their head up, use a towel roll, Boppy pillow, or small pillows to help prop them up until they can lift their head on their own
  • Place a mirror or their favorite toys in front of them to keep them entertained
  • Put them on your lap on their tummy

How much time do they need on their tummy?

  • You can start putting them on their tummy from day one for up to 5 minutes, 3-5 times a day. As they get stronger, they will be able to tolerate increased tummy time during the day.
  • But, always remember – back to sleep and tummy to play!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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How Multidisciplinary Treatment Helps Children with Autism

There are many benefits to providing children with Autism a collaboration of different therapies in addition to Applied Behavior Analysis services. blog-autism-main-landscape

  • Occupational therapy (OT) provides children with skills to help regulate themselves. These skills may help decrease inappropriate stims and help provide children with more socially acceptable skills for regulation.
    • OT can provide children with strategies to help with motor skills.
    • OT can have a different perspective on activities of daily living and as such can provide different and alternative interventions to increase independence on self-care activities.
    • OT improves children independent living skills, such as self-care.
  • Speech therapy can help children with functional communication skills. Speech and Language Pathologists (SLPs) can provide additional support to the children to develop communication skills.
    • SLPs may also provide education and the introduction of alternatives to vocal communication in the form of augmentative devices or picture exchange communication system (PECS).
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) develops personal one-on-one interventions for children to develop functional skills.
    • ABA focuses on helping children with social, academic, and behavioral concerns.
    • ABA will also focus on providing children with skills for functional communication.
  • Physical therapy (PT) can help provide children with additional motor function and can help with children who have low muscle town or balance issues.
    • PT can also help with coordination for children.
  • Collaboration of all therapies can help ensure that the most effective treatment is provided to the child in all settings.

Fusion of all therapies will provide children exposure to different strategies and interventions in different settings to help with day-to-day life.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Video Games That Get You Moving

Getting your child off the couch and active can be challenging. With video games and iPads, it can be hard to pry your child away from the screens. But what if the screens can work for you? There are many video games on various systems that get your body moving, heart rate up, and can be a lot of fun!

Here are a few games on different systems that will surely make your child break a sweat while having a great time!Blog-Video-Games-Main-Portrait

  1. Xbox – Kinect Sports

Kinect Sports uses a sensor to track your body movements while playing fun sports games including soccer, volleyball, baseball and more. Unlike other systems that only track your upper body, Kinect Sports also tracks your legs for a full body workout!

If you are looking for more intense activities, try Track and Field. Go for the gold in sprints, hurdles, the long jump, and discus – you’ll feel like you’re in the Olympics!

  1. Wii Sports

Wii Sports uses a wand controller to simulate the real game. This systems features games like baseball, golf, tennis, boxing and bowling. The greatest part: you can play against a friend!

  1. PlayStation Move + Eye

The PlayStation Move is a wand controller that works with the PlayStation Eye camera to track the player’s movements. Because some of the games use both the wand and the Eye, you will be put into the game, literally! The PlayStation Move features games such as soccer, tennis, bowling, golf, dancing, and more.

  1. Just Dance – Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation

Just Dance is compatible with many systems that use a camera to track your movements. You can dance with three of your friends to today’s top hits and yesterday’s classics. This is my personal favorite to have fun and exercise in a creative way.

Now that you have a list of some awesome, fun games for your home system, it’s time to get active and move your body!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

White Sox Benetti

Living the Dream | An Interview With Chicago White Sox Announcer Jason Benetti

Every day at NSPT, we welcome families into our clinics. Each child is so incredibly unique with their Jason-Benettitreatment, their diagnosis, the challenges they may face, the strengths that they have, etc. We are often told by parents that their biggest question is “what’s next for their child?” “Will they succeed in life?” At NSPT, our mission is to help each and every kiddo reach their maximum potential…whatever that may be.

Jason Benetti, the newest addition to the broadcasting team for the Chicago White Sox, is living his own childhood dream. At a young age, Jason was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Like our families, there was a point in time where maybe his family had the same questions about “what’s next?” He recalls at a young age going through a few surgeries and spending time at the Rehab Institute of Chicago. “Everyone there was just wonderful,” said Benetti. A typical week at a young age included Physical and Occupational Therapy and focusing on building range of motion.

Benetti grew up on the Southside in Homewood and is a graduate of Homewood-Flossmoor High School. Initially, he was a member of the band playing tuba. “That probably wasn’t the best thing for me to be doing,” joked Benetti. It was at that time the band director asked him if he would be interested in sitting in the press box during games and calling out the next set as the band was performing. This was the beginning of a growing passion for broadcasting. Homewood-Flossmoor was one of few high schools that had their own radio station, so Benetti was able to further pursue and develop his skills.

Upon graduation, Jason attended Syracuse University to pursue a career in broadcasting. While there, he was able to continue to build his skills as the Triple A announcer for the Toronto Blue Jays. But nothing fits quite like being able to land your dream job with your favorite team growing up. We were able to sit down with Jason and ask him about what it’s like to be a broadcaster for his hometown team, the Chicago White Sox.

Were there any broadcasters you wanted to be like growing up?

Benetti: There were a lot of people, Hawk Harrelson was the guy I would mimic with catchphrases walking around saying, and “You can put it on the board, YES!” But I’m not particularly a catch phrase guy myself. So Hawk was the guy. He has been so encouraging of me doing half of the games with Steve Stone, just genuine and kind.

When you first expressed interest, what did people around you say? Was there adversity or support?

Benetti: As a radio guy, no one cared what I looked like. Viv Bernstein did a story in early 2010 and asked me if there was a ceiling with regards to TV. It took time for people to warm up to the fact that I can’t look into the camera or have a commanding strut walking into a room, so perceptively there was an adjustment period for people. I quickly found great allies with Time Warner in Syracuse and ESPN. Once they got to know me, they were supportive. It just takes one person.

If you could call a game for any baseball player, who would it be? Retired or current.

Benetti: Growing up Robin Ventura was my favorite player, so in a way, I now get to call games for him.

What are you most looking forward to this season?

Benetti: I’m looking forward to the development of the rapport between myself and Steve Stone. We have only had one game so far, but I felt comfortable after and am excited to have the partnership develop. Steve has such a wealth of knowledge. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

What was it like sitting in the booth at US Cellular Field for the first time?

Benetti: It was just like another game, but with way more people interested. I’ve done so many baseball games and baseball is baseball. There weren’t really nerves, just a new experience.

What is it like working alongside hall of fame broadcaster Steve Stone?

Benetti: Anyone who is creative grows up wanting to be around other people like that. Steve Stone and crew fulfills that 100 percent. To be in a room with everyone wanting to do great work, to work with someone who expands like Steve, is everything anyone could want in a partner doing games.

Do you ever meet with or talk to young athletes? Or young individuals with CP or other disabilities? What is the one thing you tell them?

Benetti: I would tell them if you think people perceive you a certain way, you are not crazy and they might be, but do everything you can to disregard that and get past it, it could be damaging to the relationship. It is happening, but trust yourself to get past it.

And one final question…you heard it here first…Prediction…will it be a Cubs vs. White Sox World Series?

Benetti: I’m going to say yeah, it would be great fun. The Billy Goat couldn’t be blamed. Someone would have huge bragging rights for a long time.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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Physical Therapy Posts

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Tummy Time | Facebook Live Video

Join our physical therapist, Leida, for the basics on Tummy Time!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, and Hinsdale. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Physical Therapy Month: What do Physical Therapists Treat?

When I tell people that I am a pediatric physical therapist I am often met with a blank, questioning stare. Why could children possibly need physical therapy? When most people think of physical blog-physical therapy-month-main-landscapetherapy, they think of recovering from a back injury or shoulder surgery, or maybe they think of someone in a nursing home going through rehab after a stroke. However, children can often benefit from the services of a physical therapist as well, from newborns all the way through adolescents. Pediatric physical therapists focus on the gross motor development of children, and work to address any limitations that may impact that development.

Pediatric physical therapists therefore work with a wide range of diagnoses and conditions including:

  • Gross motor delay: Development of gross motor skills is an important piece of child development. Since these skills build on one another, a delay with one skill can lead to further delays or difficulty with later skills. Pediatric physical therapists can help your child develop the major gross motor milestones listed below, as well as many more!
    • Rolling
    • Sitting
    • Crawling
    • Standing
    • Walking
    • Running
    • Jumping
  • Torticollis and plagiocephaly: Torticollis is a condition that occurs when there is asymmetrical muscle length and strength in a baby’s neck muscles, and therefore limits symmetrical neck motion. Plagiocephaly, or asymmetrical head shape, often occurs when a child has torticollis, as a result of frequent pressure being put on only one part of the head. A pediatric physical therapist can help to stretch and strengthen the child’s neck in order to promote symmetrical motion and head shape.
  • Balance and coordination disorders: Limitations in balance and coordination can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to develop motor skills, as well as to safely negotiate his or her natural environments. A pediatric physical therapist can treat these limitations to allow for improved functioning and safety.
  • Neurological disorders: A neurological disorder occurs when there is abnormal functioning of the body’s nerves, spinal cord, or brain. These are just a few of the disorders that a pediatric physical therapist can treat.
    • Cerebral palsy
    • Spina bifida
    • Traumatic brain injury
    • Spinal cord injury
  • Orthopedic conditions: Children get hurt too! Even though children tend to be more resilient to injury then adults, children who suffer an injury or require surgery can also benefit from physical therapy services to help restore function to the musculoskeletal system.
    • Post-injury
    • Post-surgery
    • Scoliosis
  • Genetic disorders: Genetic mutations may result in impaired development and functioning in children, and can therefore be addressed through intervention with a pediatric physical therapist. While there is a wide range of genetic disorders and their resulting impact on child development, below are a few examples of genetic disorders where a pediatric physical therapist is typically a part of the child’s team of providers.
    • Down syndrome
    • Duchenne muscular dystrophy
    • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Gait abnormalities: The way a child’s lower extremity bones and muscles develop have a large impact on the child’s gait mechanics. Abnormalities with gait, such as toe-walking, can be addressed by a pediatric physical therapist.
  • Many more! If you are unsure of whether your child may benefit from the services of a pediatric physical therapist, speak with your pediatrician or reach out to a pediatric physical therapist near you.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood,Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, and Hinsdale! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

What Will My Child Experience in a Physical Therapy Session?

The field of pediatric physical therapy is very different from many other physical therapy settings, which is to be expected since the patients are children who are constantly growing, developing and learning new skills. Parents are therefore often unsure of what their child’s physical therapy session will look like. blog-physical therapy-session-main-landscape

While the activities performed will be unique and individualized to your child’s specific needs, there are some common things that all children will experience during a physical therapy session.

  • Choices-We want physical therapy to be a fun and productive experience for your child, so throughout the session your child will be provided with choices. These choices may include selecting an activity from a few options, or getting to choose what game, puzzle, or toy is played with while working.
  • Fun-Although your son or daughter will be asked to perform activities to address his or her specific difficulties, we will do our best to make every activity as fun and engaging as possible. The activities we work on are so much more meaningful when your child is having fun and wants to participate.
  • Work-As mentioned above, your child’s therapy sessions will be as fun and engaging as possible. However, your child will be participating in activities that are physically challenging. Your child will be moving for the majority of the session in order to work towards his or her individual goals.
  • Encouragement-Your child’s therapist is there to support and encourage your child. We know that your child is working hard to meet his or her goals, and we are there to provide positivity and encouragement with fun and challenging tasks.
  • Homework-Your child will be working hard during the therapy session, although what is done at home to carryover the new skills learned is just as important. Your child’s therapy session will therefore include homework to help facilitate progress toward his or her specific goals.
  • Success-While the activities selected for your child’s therapy session will be challenging, your therapist will never ask your child to do something that she won’t be successful at. Working hard and being successful is what the physical therapy session is all about!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, and Hinsdale! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

W-Sitting: Why There Are Conflicting Opinions and Why Your Child’s Therapist Cares So Much

If you have a child who loves that “w” position while sitting on the ground, chances are you’ve either W-Sittingcorrected them yourself or heard someone else direct them to sit “criss-cross” or “fix their feet.” The challenge, however, is understanding why there are so many conflicting opinions on the matter. Is it really that bad? There was recently an article on Today.com titled “Why W-sitting is really not so bad for kids, after all.” Two orthopedic surgeons weigh-in on how w-sitting is a position that children sit in because their anatomy allows it, it feels comfortable, and when you should be concerned about it.

As a physical therapist, I felt it was important to address this article in a way other than pointing out our profession’s fears of w-sitting, which can be found in “What’s Wrong With W-Sitting?” and “W-Sitting and Your Child’s Growth.

I want to acknowledge that, to some extent, I agree with this article. The anatomy, angles, and alignment of a child’s leg bones changes extensively throughout young childhood. Children do have more flexibility which can make w-sitting often a preferred position. And most often, prolonged w-sitting will not progress to the point of being a surgical issue. If your child only sometimes sits in this position and can easily move into and out of it, it is probably not a big deal. (Please note: as with the article above, I am generalizing this blog post. I am just discussing w-sitting and am not going to address the impairments that often result in w-sitting: low muscle tone, decreased core strength, excessive femoral anteversion, etc. Please speak with your pediatrician or see a physical therapist if you have concerns with your child’s development. Sometimes w-sitting is the result of other things going on which can impact their gross motor success.)

So—why do people like myself lovingly attempt to annoy your child out of w-sitting? It is not that physical therapists do not acknowledge the natural development of their anatomy and what feels best. It is that we are bombarded throughout our schooling, clinical experiences, and our entire professional careers of what occurs when muscles are not aligned “within normal limits.” For pediatric therapists, we are given this unique and wonderful opportunity to work with bodies who are just beginning their development, moldable, and are constantly changing to assess and promote optimal alignment- a strong foundation for a strong life. For me, it does not matter if your child is coming to me for shoulder pain- I am going to correct how their legs are positioned while they are sitting; posture is like the “eat your vegetables” and “brush your teeth” of my profession. I want each child’s physical growth and development to occur on top of the best possible foundation. Just as pediatricians and dentists want to establish healthy habits, routines, and lifestyles for short and long term health, physical therapists want to encourage the best posture for your child so that they will not be limited or suffer from the painful conditions or injuries that result from poor alignment and muscle imbalances.

An easy example to compare w-sitting to is poor sitting or standing posture. Almost all adults can relate to the neck and back pain that can occur from poor posture. In addition, poor posture can contribute to nerve impingement, shoulder pain/injury, jaw pain, sciatica, etc. This pain did not happen as your parents/grandparents/teachers/caregivers encouraged you to “sit up straight” or “stop slouching”—it happened later as the bad movement patterns continued and the muscle imbalances grew worse. In my mind, w-sitting is the same. It may resolve and you may never develop pain, or these movement patterns and muscle imbalances may progress; when you look at the alignment and muscle activation that w-sitting encourages, physical therapists think of the following (to name a few): patellofemoral syndrome, hip pain from impingement, flat feet and foot pain, knee osteoarthritis, and increased risk of knee and ankle injuries.

As the parent, how you use information is up to you. As a physical therapist, I will continue to kindly request that each child sits “criss-cross applesauce” for their current AND future development.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, and Hinsdale. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Physical Therapy versus Personal Training: Key Differences and What’s Best for Your Child

Let me start by explaining what a physical therapist and a personal trainer do and who they can help.

Who is a physical therapist?physical therapy or personal training for your child

A physical therapist is a board certified movement expert. They analyze abnormal movement patterns and, through tests and measures, determine what impairments are causing those patterns. Physical therapists may use a combination of manual therapy, neuromuscular re-education, modalities, and exercises to address those impairments and improve function.

Who is a personal trainer?

The American College of Sports Medicine defines a ACSM certified personal trainer as a person who “is qualified to plan and implement exercise programs for healthy individuals or those who have medical clearance to exercise.”[1] They give advice on general health and wellness tips, personalizing it to each client. Personal trainers may also help you progress your exercise routine.

Which is right for you?

Now that we know what each is and what they do, who is best suited to help you? Well, it depends. If you are a healthy individual who has been cleared for exercise, a personal trainer can help you stick to and progress an exercise plan. When you have a physical impairment that is affecting your function, head to a physical therapist to receive treatment.

While physical therapy may be what’s best for your child at one point in his life, this may change over time. I know many physical therapists that may discharge a child from their care due to completion of goals and return to function, but who recommend continued exercises to maintain those goals. A personal trainer may be helpful at this time to follow through with these recommendations.  Transitioning from physical therapy services to a personal trainer too early can result in return of impairment or injury.

Please consult with a health care professional prior to change in care.

NSPT offers physical therapy services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Resources: [1] ACSM webpage. “http://certification.acsm.org/acsm-certified-personal-trainer. “ Accessed on 2/1/2015.

Girl with headache

The Role of the Physical Therapist in Post-Concussion Management

 

 

In our blog on Signs of Concussion in Youth Athletes, it became evident that a concussion can result in a wide variety of negative signs and symptoms. Following such an injury, many young athletes are eager to return to their sport. However, complete physical and mental rest are the best things to help the brain recover, and are absolutely necessary during the first 24 hours following a concussion. A physical therapist can be an integral member of the child’s concussion management team in preparing the child to return to sport, or in helping to address impairments resulting from the concussion that may be limiting the child’s school or daily functioning. Below is a list of interventions a physical therapist may be able to provide to a child who suffered a concussion injury:

  • Girl with headacheManagement of neck pain or cervicogenic headache: A cervicogenic headache is one that is caused by injury or tightness in the neck muscles or due to limitations in mobility of the neck joints. Since these structures attach to your skull, impairments there can result in headaches. Your physical therapist can help with manual therapy and exercises to increase mobility of these structures in order to alleviate headaches.
  • Balance and coordination training: It is very common to have balance or coordination difficulties following a concussion. A physical therapist can help to re-train and strengthen these systems in order to restore function.
  • Graded return to physical activity: When your child has been cleared by the pediatrician to return to physical activity, the physical therapist can help with a gradual return to activity while closely monitoring concussion symptoms. It is important to ease back into exercise starting with light aerobic activities before participating in moderate or intense physical activities or sport-specific training.
  • Gradual return to specific sport: Once the athlete has returned to aerobic exercise with no worsening of symptoms, the physical therapist can then begin to introduce sport-specific training drills and gradual return to practice and competition.

It is important to note that your child should be closely monitored by your pediatrician or primary care physician initially following the injury, as well as frequently throughout your child’s course of treatment. Your physical therapist should also update your pediatrician with your child’s symptoms and response with return to physical activity. Please contact North Shore Pediatric Therapy to schedule an appointment with one of our physical therapists if your child has recently suffered a concussion or continues to suffer from post-concussion impairments.

Laughing baby with ball

Understanding Physical Therapy Outcome Measurements: The Peabody Developmental Motor Scale, Second Edition (PDMS-II)

 

 

 

In my previous blog about the Alberta Infant Motor Scale, I mentioned that as a baby ages, more age-appropriate developmental motor scales must be used to monitor achievement of skills.  The Peabody Developmental Motor Scale is a comprehensive and reliable tool used to measure both fine and gross motor activities early in life. It was designed to assess motor skills in children from birth to 5 years old.  A majority of physical therapists use this assessment to monitor toddler and preschooler development.

Laughing baby with ballThe PDMS-2 is not just limited to physical therapist use. It can be helpful to occupational therapists, diagnosticians, early intervention specialists, adapted physical education teachers, psychologists, and developmental pediatricians who are monitoring motor abilities of children younger than five.  The six subtests that make up the PDMS-2 can be used separately or can be combined to collectively describe a child’s gross motor skills (Gross Motor Quotient), fine motor skills (Fine Motor Quotient), or overall motor skills (Total Motor Quotient).

See below for a description of each subtest:

Reflexes: The 8-item Reflexes subtest measures aspects of a child’s ability to automatically react to environmental events.  Because reflexes typically become integrated and less obvious by the time a child is 12 months old, this subtest is given only to children from birth through 11 months of age.

Stationary:  The 30-item Stationary subtest measures a child’s ability to control his body within its center of gravity and retain equilibrium. Stationary skills include standing on one leg without falling, or standing on tiptoes.

Locomotion: The 89-item Locomotion subtest measures a child’s ability to move from one place to another.  The actions measured include crawling, walking, running, hopping, and jumping forward.

Object Manipulation: The 24-item Object Manipulation subtest measures a child’s ability to manipulate balls.  Examples of the actions measured include catching, throwing, and kicking.

Physical therapists mostly focus on the reflex, stationary, locomotion, and object manipulation portions of the PDMS-2.  Through these sections of the test, we can better assess 1) the maturation of a baby’s neuromuscular system, 2) his safety and stability when navigating his environment, 3) his ability to support and move his own weight, and 4) his ability to maintain his balance and control his trunk while moving objects outside his center of gravity. Overall, this tells us how well a child can use the large muscles in his body to stabilize and create movement.

The Peabody Developmental Motor Scale has been norm-referenced, and proven to be reliable and valid. It has been used to monitor children with and without developmental difficulties. It is relatively easy to administer and the information it provides can be used by medical professionals to tailor a child’s individualized education program (IEP).

Does your toddler have special needs? Or do you have questions about physical therapy screenings for your preschooler? Come to see one of our specialists!

Make the Most of Pediatric Therapy Sessions

Parents often ask how they can help their child make optimal progress while in therapy.  Attending therapy once or multiple times a week is a large commitment, both financially and time-wise.  Therefore, it’s important to make the most of your child’s time in therapy and to ensure you optimize your resources to help your child progress as much as possible.

5 Things parents can do to make the most of pediatric therapy sessions:

  1. Communicate with your child’s therapist.  If you don’t know what your child is working on in therapy, then there is a problem.  Your therapist should continually inform you what specific goals your child is working on and why.  Your therapist should also give you specific ways to address these goals at home.  If you feel unsatisfied with the communication between you and your therapist, talk to him or her about it.  Troubleshoot ideas to open the lines of communication, whether it’s talking at the end of treatment sessions, planning periodic phone meetings, or receiving e-mail updates.
  2. Check-in about the big picture.  In addition to weekly communication with your child’s therapist, schedule time every so often for a more thorough “check-in” meeting about your child’s progress and to collaborate on a plan moving forward.  This might be a face-to-face meeting or a phone conference.  These are best done without the distraction of your child or other siblings present.  Discuss your child’s progress, ask your questions, and get an idea of where things are going from here.  Is your child making progress?  If not, why?  Should therapy be increased to twice a week?  Will your child benefit from additional support from another therapeutic discipline? Read more

5 Top Chicago and North Shore Gyms for Children After They Graduate from Physical Therapy

My Gym

my gym logo
My Gym offers programs and classes to that are designed to help children that are 6 weeks through 13 years of age to develop physically, cognitively and emotionally.  They offer structured weekly classes that incorporate music, dance, relays, games, special rides, gymnastics, sports and more. Children will gain strength, balance, coordination, agility and flexibility while developing social skills, confidence and self-esteem. Classes are separated by ages: “Little Bundles” (6 weeks- 6 months), “Tiny Tykes” (7-13 months), “Waddlers” (14-22 months), “Gymsters” (23 Months – 2.5 years) and etc. Programs include Camp, Parents’ Night Out, Fit & Fun Days, Karate/Martial Arts and Free Play.

Little Gym little gym logo

The Little Gym of Chicago takes a holistic “Three-Dimensional Learning” approach to skill development. Their philosophy is based upon three core tenets: “Get Moving” to foster flexibility, strength, balance and coordination; “Brain Boost” to nurture listening skills, concentration and decision making; and “Citizen Kid” to promote sharing, teamwork, cooperation and leadership abilities. They offer programs and classes that are categorized by age: Parent/Child Classes for 4 months-3 years, Gymnastics for 4-6 years, Gymnastics for 6-12 years, Sports Skills for 3-6 years, Karate for 4-12 years and Dance for 3-12 years. There is also a WonderKids Club for 3-4 year olds that focuses on learning and development.

Bubbles Academy bubbles academy logo

Bubbles Academy offers events, programs, classes and play opportunities for children as well as their parents. Their class curriculum focuses on Motor Skills, Language, Attention, Self Expression, Socialization, Empathy and Confidence. The Bubbles Academy offers a free trial class. Their play-based enrichment courses include music, creative movement, art, yoga, independence, imagination, swimming, cooking and dance. Our educational series is progressive, including preschool preparation, gentle separation and an alternative preschool option. Programs are categorized based upon age groups and milestones: Babies (including Newborns, Bubble Music and Aqua Bubbles), Crawlers, Walkers, 2-3 years, 3-5 years, Family, Adult Fitness, Sibling Care and various camps.

Gymboree gymboree logo

Gymboree Play & Music has been fostering creativity and confidence in children of ages 0-5 for over 30 years. The play-type activities are designed to help develop the cognitive, physical and social skills of children. The class curriculum is based on a balanced whole-child approach with activities to support what your child is mastering currently and what he or she will aspire to master later. Classes are designed in 6-month increments in order to meet a child’s unique interests and abilities. Gymboree classes include Play & Learn, Music, Art, Sports, Family Fun and Social Skills.

Little Beans Cafe little beans

At Little Beans, kids have the freedom to play, learn, imagine and create in a custom interactive indoor playground. The premise of Little Beans Café is to provide families with a place to play together. It provides parents with a café atmosphere while providing kids with an interactive indoor village to explore and socialize. Little Beans have free-play, supervised play, classes, events, parties, camps and play groups.

When is Stiffness Problematic in Infants?

If your child seems stiff or rigid, he/she may have what is described as “high muscle tone” (hypertonia). This means that the muscles baby in towelare chronically contracted. Stiffness can become problematic in an infant when it limits the movements and acquisition of a child’s gross motor skills.

Signs of Stiffness in Infants:

  • Your child might hold his/her hands in tight fists or may seem unable to relax certain muscles.
  • He/She may have difficulty letting go of an object or difficulty moving from one position to another.
  • The legs or trunk of the child might cross or stiffen when you pick the child up as well.

How Can A Physical Therapist Help?

While limb stiffness is a sign of abnormal signals that are being sent from the brain to the body that over-activate certain muscle groups, some of these movement/coordination disorders are mild and can be treated with physical therapy. The physical therapist will help the child break out of her stiff positions, stretch out the tight muscles, strengthen the weak muscles and develop efficient movement patterns.

At times, limb stiffness is a symptom of spastic cerebral palsy; however, parents should not focus on a medical diagnosis within babies. Regardless of the medical diagnosis, the focus of therapy will be to stretch the tight, overactive muscles and guide the child to acquire motor skills and perform functional tasks in a more efficient manner.

How Can A Parent Help?

Parents should set up the environment to be motivating and organize activities so that the child can practice in a variety of ways. Both massage and Yoga can help to improve muscle length and flexibility. While Botulinum Toxin (commonly known by the brand name “Botox”) can help, it is not used in children that are younger than 18 months. This toxin is injected directly into a child’s muscles and temporarily paralyzes the muscle’s activity, giving the child the opportunity to stretch the tight muscle and strengthen the opposing muscle. Muscle relaxants may be prescribed for adults that have cerebral palsy, but they’re rarely used for toddlers as they cause drowsiness.

If you are concerned about the stiffness in your baby or if your child’s rigidity is keeping him/her from interacting with toys, contact your doctor and schedule an evaluation with a physical therapist.