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Children Therapy Services

Ascent also offers occupational, physical, and speech therapy services on an outpatient basis for children who qualify. Upon referral from the child’s PCP, an evaluation(s) will be completed. If the child qualifies for one or more of these therapy services, a Prescription for Therapy Services (DMS-640) will be sent to the PCP for signature and referral for treatment. An individualized treatment plan will be developed by the appropriate professional. All children will be re-evaluated at least annually to determine need for continued services. When it is determined that the child no longer qualifies for therapy services, the treatment plan will be updated accordingly and services will be adjusted.

Affiliations & Recognition

  • Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care
  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities
  • The Jason Foundation

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy (OT) is a type of treatment that focuses upon helping children to achieve greater independence in their lives and develop life skills. Through exercises, task-related activities, and specific treatments occupational therapists can help your child learn or regain critical skills. OT can help children with a variety of needs to improve cognitive, physical, or motor skills to increase self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. If certain areas are unable to be improved, occupational therapists will work with your child to create alternative strategies to achieve these goals.

Some parents think that because a child doesn’t have an “occupation,” occupational therapy is only for adults. However, each child does have a job: your child’s job is to play and learn. An occupational therapist can help evaluate your child’s playing skills, academic performance, and daily activities to determine what is developmentally appropriate for your child’s age. In additional to helping your child’s physical wellbeing, an occupational therapist can address social, psychological, and environmental factors that can affect functioning in different ways.

How is Physical Therapy Different from Occupational Therapy?

While both PT and OT can vastly improve your child’s quality of life and teach your children the skills necessary to engage in normal activities, these two disciplines do have different focuses. Physical therapists will focus upon building strength, decreasing pain, increasing range of motion, endurance and gross motor functioning. Occupational therapy, on the other hand, helps to increase fine motor skills, visual-perceptual skills, cognitive ability, and sensory-processing challenges.

Conditions That May Need Occupational Therapy

There are a variety of syndromes, diagnoses, and medical problems that can be helped by an occupational therapist. The following conditions may benefit greatly from occupational therapy:

  • Autism and pervasive developmental disorders
  • Birth defects
  • Birth injuries
  • Broken bones and other orthopedic injuries
  • Burns
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Developmental delays
  • Learning problems
  • Mental health or behavioral disorders
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Post-surgical conditions
  • Spina bifida
  • Traumatic amputations
  • Traumatic injuries to brain or spinal cord

Treatment Approaches by an Occupational Therapist

An occupational therapist will perform a variety of evaluations to determine exactly what types of approaches will work best for your child’s unique challenges. Your child’s OT will constantly evaluate and reevaluate your child’s progress and assess for the needs for any changes to his or her treatment approaches. Some of these approaches to occupational therapy may include:

Fine motor skills. Working with fine motor skills in the hands so that a younger child can grasp and release toys and an older child can develop good handwriting skills. We offer a handwriting without tears program to assist children who need to fine-tune their fine motor skills.

Improve hand-eye coordination. Through the usage of play, an occupational therapist will help children learn to hit a target, bat a ball, and copy from the blackboard for school-aged children.

Daily living. An occupational therapist will help children who have developmental delays to learn ways to perform normal activities of daily living. Your child’s OT may use assistive devices to help your child learn to dress, bathe themselves, brush their teeth, and work to help your child to learn to feed him or herself.

Anger management. Children who have behavioral difficulties or major frustrations with their challenges may need help to work through their anger management issues. An OT can help your child learn to stop hitting others or acting out and use different ways to deal with anger, such as writing out their feelings or engaging in an exhausting physical activity.

Coordination. An OT can help a child who has a physical disability preventing them from developing proper coordination by teaching them ways to feed themselves, use a computer, and increase the speed and legibility of handwriting.

Specialized equipment. Some children will benefit from the usage of assistive devices to help them reach their full potential. An OT can help evaluate your child’s need for specialized equipment such as bathing equipment, splints, dressing devices, communication aids, and wheelchairs.

Adaptation. An occupational therapist can help you and your family learn new ways to adapt home and school environments so that they are more conducive to your child’s needs.

Family Needs. An occupational therapist will work with loved ones, family, and caregivers of children to provide guidance about safe and effective ways of caring for your child at home.

Focus and social skills. Children who have challenges with paying attention or responding to sensory stimuli may need help from an OT to help improve social skills and focus in school or at home.

Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation

Often, physical therapy is prescribed by doctors for children who have been injured, struggle with movement problems related to a disease, illness, or disability. Following an injury, physical therapists can usually help to reduce pain and help children get back into resuming their daily lives. Physical therapists can teach children different ways and exercises to do to help regain strength, range of motion, and prevent another, recurring injury. However, PT isn’t simply limited to children who have had an injury. Many children have challenges moving in a way that prevents them from engaging in activities of daily living.

Pediatric physical therapists are in a unique position to help children and families to overcome challenging circumstances and promote greater happiness and profound joy. These therapists use an arsenal of techniques that can help treat musculoskeletal problems and improve the mobility for children who are facing a variety of medical conditions. A pediatric physical therapist will interview you and your child and perform a variety of examinations to diagnose the source of your child’s movement disorders. From there, our physical therapist will guide an individualized treatment plan to help your child successfully meet and exceed his or her goals. Your child’s PT will help to improve your child’s motor development, strength, range of motion, endurance, balance, coordination, gait challenges, heart and lung endurance, as well as overcome delayed motor development.

What Kinds of Challenges Does Physical Therapy Help To Overcome?

Physical therapy can be used for children who have been diagnosed with certain disabilities, delays, and injuries to help them regain as much function as possible in their activities of daily living. These challenges may include:

  • Acute trauma
  • Birth defects – such as spina bifida
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Developmental delays
  • Effects of in utero drug or alcohol exposure
  • Genetic disorders
  • Head injury
  • Heart and lung conditions
  • Limb deficiencies
  • Muscle diseases
  • Orthopedic disabilities or injuries
  • Sports injuries

Techniques Physical Therapists May Use

Every child who comes to us for help will receive an individualized plan of care specific to his or her needs based upon interviews and evaluations. Your child’s PT will also work to teach you and your child about safety and home exercises, as improvement of physical function is usually best done through daily practice. There are a wide array of exercises and techniques physical therapists may use to help a child regain or increase his or her strength, improve movements, and strengthen existing skills to promote greater independence. These techniques may include:

  • Improving developmental delays in fine and gross motor skills through teaching your child to crawl or walk
  • Specific sports rehabilitation that has an emphasis on timeliness for returning to the sport
  • Training your child to use any assistive devices such as a brace, crutches, or walkers
  • Elongation of tight muscles and strengthening weaker muscles during active exercise
  • Training to build strength around an injury
  • Improving circulation around an injury by using various techniques, such as cold, heat, exercise, electrical stimulation, massage, and ultrasonography
  • Exercises in flexibility designed to increase range of motion
  • Practice balance and coordination through developmentally appropriate activities
  • Adaptive play
  • Water therapy
  • Family and child education about prevention of future injuries

During your child’s session, his or her PT may perform evaluations to help guide treatment. These may include:

  • Measurement of flexibility and strength of your child
  • Analysis of child’s gait through watching them walk or run
  • Identify any potential or existing problems
  • Create an at-home regime of exercises to promote greater functioning

If you have any concerns about your child’s gross or fine motor development, call the amazing treatment staff at Ascent Children’s Health Services to schedule a consultation. The sooner we can begin our work, the happier your life will be.

Speech & Language Therapy

A speech disorder causes problems with pronunciation of sounds while a language disorder refers to challenges understanding or stringing words together to communicate an idea. When your child is diagnosed with a speech or language disorder, he or she will begin treatment with a specialist in speech-language pathology, or a speech therapist (SLPs). These professionals are educated in human communications, development of communication, and disorders of speech and language. Speech language pathologists are able to perform assessments in language, speech, cognitive-communication, and any difficulties with feeding or swallowing. These assessments, in turn, can identify types of communication problems and how best to treat them. It is important that if you suspect your child has a problem with speech or language that he or she is evaluated carefully by a speech-language pathologist as soon as possible. The earlier the intervention, the more problems can be prevented.

What Are The Types of Speech Disorders?

There is an array of speech disorders related to a number of different diagnoses, and each speech disorder will require a different approach to treatment. Common speech disorders include the following:

Articulation (speech sound) disorders: These disorders encompass children who have challenges producing sounds in syllables or saying words so incorrectly that a listener cannot understand what is being said. As a result, a child may use an easier sound in place of a harder one, omit sounds, or distort sounds. Sometimes, children may have challenges combining movements of speech in a sequence, such as those required by words and sentences. Signs of articulation disorders by age:

  • 8-9 months: Does not engage in repetitive babble
  • 18 months: Uses mostly vowels or only a few consonants
  • 3 years: Leaves out consonants or has unclear speech
  • 4 years: Uses distorted, hard-to-understand speech
  • 6 years: Cannot produce certain sounds of speech

Fluency Disorders (stuttering): Fluency disorders involve abnormal disruptions in speech flow. These may include involuntary repetitions, hesitations, prolongations, blocks, or disruptions during speech. A child may have tension during speech or abnormal movements like forceful eye blinking or jerking. Older children may refuse to talk to strangers or may be embarrassed to speak in front of others due to fears of stuttering.

Resonance or vocal disorders: These disorders include problems with pitch, volume, and quality of the voice to a point that it may distract listeners from what’s being said. Resonance or voice disorders may cause discomfort and pain when a child is speaking.

Feeding and swallowing disorder: This speech disorder encompasses problems children have with eating and swallowing. Children who have a feeding or swallowing disorder may have difficulty swallowing liquids or solids, sucking or drinking from a cup, difficulty taking food from a spoon, or chewing foods. These children may avoid certain types and textures of foods and may choke, gag, or cough at meal times. Children with dysphagia may benefit greatly from working with a speech therapist to reduce the risk of malnutrition, aspiration, and choking.

What are Language Disorders?

There are two primary types of language disorders that can both affect a child’s ability to interact socially with others and learn. Symptoms of language disorders by age group can include:

  • 4 months: Poor eye contact and inattentive to others speaking
  • 6-8 months: Doesn’t use gestures
  • 12 months: Difficulties understanding speech or following one-step directions
  • 16-18 months: Uses no words or has extremely limited vocabulary
  • 24-26 months: Does not combine words to form short sentences
  • 3 years: Echoes words or phrases or has many grammatical errors in sentences
  • 3-4 years: Cannot retell stories or discuss past events
  • 6 years: Challenges paying attention, memorization of facts, learning, or reading

Expressive disorders: These disorders cause challenges with putting words together, limited vocabulary, or an inability to use language in an appropriate way.

Receptive disorders: Involve challenges understanding or processing language.

When Is Speech Therapy Needed?

There are a wide variety of reasons why kids may need speech-language therapy. Speech therapy should begin as early as possible as children enrolled in therapy before the age of 5 often have better outcomes than older children. However, that’s not to say that older children cannot progress in therapy— simply that older children have established patterns of speech that need to be changed. Some of the more common reasons that a child may need speech therapy can include:

  • Autism
  • Birth defects, such as cleft lip or palate
  • Breathing disorders and respiratory problems
  • Chronic hoarseness
  • Cognitive or developmental delays
  • Excessive drooling
  • Feeding and swallowing disorders
  • Hearing impairments
  • Motor problems
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Weak and slack oral muscles

Approaches to Treatment of Speech-Language Disorders:

When your child enters speech-language therapy, his or her SLP will work with your child in a variety of settings: one-on-one, small groups, or in a classroom to help your child learn to overcome difficulties of a specific disorder. Most SLPs will use a variety of strategies to help your child grow and develop speech and language skills. These therapeutic strategies may include:

Articulation therapy: Articulation is the production of sounds, and SLPs often will work with a child who has difficulties with articulation by modeling the correct sounds and syllables during play activities (which are specific to a child’s needs). The SLP will physically show your child how to produce challenging sounds, such as an “r.”

Language intervention activities: Your child’s SLP will engage your child during play and conversations, using objects, pictures, books, and ongoing events to stimulate the development of language. Your child’s SLP will likely model correct pronunciation and use repetition to help build language and speech skills.

Oral-motor/feeding and swallowing therapy: Our SLP will use a number of oral exercises, like strengthening facial muscles through blowing up balloons, facial massage, and other tongue, lip, and jaw exercises. Your child’s SLP may also work with a variety of textures of foods and temperatures during eating and swallowing.