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Pediatric Physical & Occupational Therapy

Expanding Their World

Kaleb Deweerd pedatric physical therapy patientFour-year-old Kaleb Deweerd loves pulling into the parking lot of Milford Regional in the Blackstone Valley. Once inside this new Northbridge facility, he blows bubbles while bouncing atop a therapy ball, rides a swing and races toy cars down the hallway.

Kaleb's mother Sara Korber Deweerd recalls how her son's Down Syndrome used to affect him. He would lie down from fatigue in the middle of meals and fall when walking from one surface to another-- like sidewalk to grass. Since Kaleb’s Down Syndrome impacts muscle tone, he has weekly visits with physical therapist Caitlin Curis, PT, and occupational therapist Kellie Nashawaty, OT, of Milford Regional's Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine in Northbridge. “They get him to do squats by hiding little toys all over the place,” laughs his mother. “I can see why he loves going. Now Kaleb runs, jumps and climbs, and nothing seems to hold him back. However, if we had not done therapy, I’m quite sure he wouldn’t be where he is now.”

Pediatric rehabilitation services have expanded in the Blackstone Valley thanks to the new Northbridge facility, which has a children’s gymnasium and obstacle course inside the 6,000 square-foot Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine area. Already established for pediatric speech therapy, the clinic added pediatric occupational therapy (OT) in March and has put much effort into the pediatric physical therapy (PT) service.

“I see a lot of pediatric patients that toe walk have a general gross motor delay, low muscle tone, anteversion in their hips, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, a history of strokes, seizure disorders, along with multiple other diagnoses ” Caitlin says. “They put in a beam for a swing at the new building and we got a bigger balance beam, more therapy balls, a tunnel, trampoline, basketball hoop, scooter boards, and a lot more toys.”
Caitlin says part of her job involves determining what will motivate each child. “You can use a toy fire truck on the window sill and have them stand on a rocker board, or we can play ball while standing on balance discs,” she explains. “The toy gives them a good motivation to maintain that position. These are hard activities we’re asking the kids to do and it has to be fun; otherwise, they won’t hold meaning to them.”

Over the past year, she has helped Kaleb develop the strength to kick a moving ball, run, jump, climb stairs and get up from the floor with less assistance. Now they’re working on pedaling a tricycle and galloping. “Those are all things that make it easier for him to play and keep up with his age group, and his sisters, too,” Caitlin states.

While PT focuses on gross motor, Kellie specializes in developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination through the OT service. According to Kellie, typical activities include scissor cutting, manipulating play dough, forming letters on an easel, assembling puzzles and practicing self-care skills like putting on a coat. Kellie works with children who need rehab after an injury as well as those with various developmental delays.

“Caregivers can bring children to this facility for evaluation if they are looking for assistance with managing their child's difficulties," Kellie notes. “The advantage of coming to us is that parents can come back to the room and observe. For older kids, it boosts self esteem when they realize they can do something. With younger kids, once they gain independence and skills that were difficult for them, the look on their parents’ faces is so moving.”
Kaleb visits the center three times per week for PT, OT, and speech. His mother says she appreciates the parental interaction with the therapists and the team effort. “Their staff, facilities and materials are top-notch, and that is great to have in a small town,” says Sara. “I highly recommend it to anyone who is considering it.”

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