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What Kind of Therapy Does Your Child Need?

Physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech-language pathology?

May 31, 2015

Unless you’ve had personal experience with a specialized form of rehabilitation therapy, you may not know what the various types are or when a child might need them. We spoke with experts in three of these forms to find out how they help clients from birth to adulthood.

Physical Therapy

The Expert

Shelley Squier, M.S.P.T.

The Therapy's Purpose

Promotes mobility for children coping with injury, illness, genetic disorders, sensory disorders or other physical challenges.

Examples of Treatment

  • A child learns to use his wheelchair after a debilitating injury.
  • A child with cerebral palsy undergoes periodic therapy throughout her life to improve strength and mobility.
  • A young athlete rebuilds strength and leg function after an injury.

How a Child is Referred

  • In acute care, doctors make referrals.
  • Outpatient treatment is prescribed by pediatricians or specialists.
  • Parents with concerns about a child’s development can ask a doctor to prescribe a physical therapy evaluation.

Occupational Therapy

The Expert

Zachary Kelsey, OCR

The Therapy's Purpose

Improves functioning and increases independence after a loss of functioning due to injury or surgery.

Examples of Treatment

  • After a car accident, a child learns to dress himself and go to school while wearing a body brace.
  • After spinal cord surgery, a teen relearns to feed herself.
  • A baby born prematurely and without having developed the instinct to nurse learns suck/swallow/breathe capabilities.

How a Child is Referred

  • Parents can ask doctors for referrals.
  • Therapy needs can be assessed while a child is hospitalized for surgery or an injury.
  • For children over 3 years of age, parents can get a referral from the child’s school to help with education-related goals, such as handwriting, even if the child is not yet a student.

Speech-Language Pathology

The Expert

Kim-Loan Luu, M.A., CCC-SLP

The Therapy's Purpose

Helps children who have difficulties speaking, understanding spoken language, expressing thoughts, chewing and/or swallowing.

Examples of Treatment

  • A child who stutters learns to control the rate at which she speaks.
  • A child who suffers a traumatic brain injury learns to cope with ongoing disorientation and memory loss.
  • Children with autism learn to pick up on social cues in conversations.
  • A child with a cleft palate practices articulation and swallowing food.

How a Child is Referred

  • In inpatient, outpatient and private therapy settings, a doctor’s order is required for evaluation.
  • In school, parents or teachers may initiate the referral process.

The Rehabilitation Services department at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital offers a full range of therapy services to both inpatient and outpatient children. To ensure continuity of care, we make every effort to schedule our patients with the same therapists throughout their course of treatment.

For more information about the rehabilitation program at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, please call 713-704-2100.

For more information about Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, please call 713-704-KIDS
or visit childrens.memorialhermann.org.

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