Children's Therapy Treatments

MU Health Care’s Children’s Therapy team offers a wide variety of treatments.

Aerodigestive therapy: These interventions address conditions that cause a child to have airway abnormalities, digestive issues and pulmonary conditions that impact eating, speaking, breathing or sleeping.

Aquatic therapy: This is physical, occupational and speech therapy occurring in the water.

Articulation and intelligibility: These treatments help a child form clear and distinct sounds easily understood by the listener.

Assistive technology evaluation and training: This is any equipment system that helps the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. These often include augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices and switches. 

Astronaut training: This protocol directly impacts the vestibular, visual and auditory systems to help improve a child’s self-regulation, motor coordination, balance and fear of movement.

Auditory processing: This includes speech therapy and auditory training therapy to help children improve their understanding of sounds.

Augmentative and alternative communication: It’s a device, tool or system that allows a child who has difficulty speaking to communicate.

Aural rehab: It’s the process of identifying and diagnosing hearing loss, providing therapies to increase the function of children with hearing impairments and implementing devices to help a child’s hearing abilities.

Cochlear implants speech therapy: This therapy provided by our speech-language pathologists is for children who have received cochlear implants for hearing loss.

Cognitive communication disorder therapy: This is a treatment for communication problems caused by impairments in cognition, such as attention, memory, problem-solving and reasoning.

Comprehensive behavior intervention for tics (CBIT): This treatment program does not include medication. It trains children to be more aware of tics, to perform a competing behavior when they feel the urge to tic and to make changes to daily activities to help reduce the number of tics.

Constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT): This therapy is for children who have difficulty using one arm or hand. The stronger arm is limited by a constraint, allowing for increased practice and strengthening of the weaker arm. 

Developmental therapy: This play-based therapy integrates conceptual skills, motor skills, language skills and social-emotional skills.

Fascial counterstrain: Clinicians use only their hands to find and fix fascial dysfunction. Fascia is the connective tissue abundant throughout the body.

Feeding and swallowing evaluation and treatments: Our occupational and speech-language pathologists work with children to determine medical, nutritional or lifestyle changes to help with feeding and swallowing disorders.

Fine motor treatment: Occupational therapists provide individualized treatment for patients with an emphasis on improving functional tasks performed by the hand, such as writing, cutting and grasping.

Food chaining: A child is presented with new foods that may be similar in taste, temperature or texture to foods the child already likes and accepts, creating a link to targeted foods.

Food exploration: Children are encouraged to play, interact and have fun with food to improve their comfort level with food.

Functional electrical stimulation (FES): This treatment uses neuromuscular electrical stimulation through functional activities, sometimes in products such as Bioness, WalkAide and FES bikes.

Gait trainer evaluations: Our physical therapists have access to various assistive devices and equipment that may help children be more independent with walking.

Gross motor treatment: Our therapists help patients improve upon age-appropriate skills, such as rolling, crawling, walking, jumping and skipping.

Handwriting therapy: Our occupational therapists often use the Handwriting Without Tears® program to improve a child’s ability to write through multisensory and developmentally appropriate strategies.

Intensive strengthening program: This intensive therapy trains or retrains the brain and body to work together by teaching high repetitions of movement patterns and exercises in a concentrated period of time. 

Interactive metronome therapy: This evidence-based assessment and training tool measures and improves synchronization of neural impulses within key brain networks for cognitive, communicative, sensory and motor performance.

LiteGait treatment: The LiteGait is an overhead, suspension device that allows our therapists to control the amount of support a child receives during standing or gait training. The child is safely supported while walking over the ground or a treadmill. When used over a treadmill, this is referred to as partial body-weight supported treadmill training.

Lower extremity orthoses: External devices, often referred to as braces, are attached or applied to the leg to improve function by providing support, controlling motion, reducing pain, correcting deformities and preventing progression of deformities. Our physical therapists work with local orthotists and a child’s physicians to identify the best brace.

Meal time routine planning: This involves establishing a consistent process and time frame for meals.

Modified barium swallow study: This examination is performed in conjunction with an X-ray. The patient swallows barium-coated foods and liquids to assess the quality of swallowing mechanisms of the mouth, pharynx and esophagus when there are concerns for dysphagia.

Motion analysis: Both DARI (Dynamic Athletic Research Institute) and Vicon systems are used. Motion analysis uses technology to record the movement of a child, allowing for detailed evaluation. 

Myofascial release: Hands-on manual techniques are used to treat soft tissue adhesions, tightness and pain.

Neurodevelopmental treatment (NDT): This hands-on treatment approach enhances the function of children who have difficulty controlling movement because of neurological challenges. NDT uses guided or facilitated movements as a treatment strategy to ensure correlation of input from receptors within the body.

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES): This uses a device that safely sends electrical impulses to nerves. This input causes muscles to contract. The electrical stimulation can increase strength and range of motion. It is often used to “retrain” or “re-educate” a muscle to function and to build strength after a surgery or period of disuse.

Oral motor exercises: This treatment addresses the movement of muscles of the lips, jaw, tongue and soft palate, especially the movements related to speech and feeding.

Pediatric pain management: Our therapists are able to tailor assessment strategies to a child’s developmental level to ensure pain is properly addressed.

Pragmatic language training: Our therapists teach the use of appropriate communication, including body language, in social situations.

Pressure mapping: This tool involves placing a special pad between the seat cushion and a child’s buttocks. A digital reading of pressure information appears on the computer screen, identifying any high risk areas for sores/ulcers to develop.

Resistance training: This form of exercise improves muscular strength and endurance of children by moving their limbs against resistance provided by their body weight, gravity, bands, weighted bars, dumbbells or exercise machines.

Sensory hierarchy desensitization of food: This program teaches children to eat various food textures.

Sensory integration: Exposure to sensory stimulation in a structured, repetitive way helps the brain to adapt and allow kids to process and react to sensations more efficiently.

Serial casting: It is a non-surgical way to reduce muscle tightness around a joint or improve a contracture. The casts are changed on a weekly basis until a target range-of-motion goal is achieved.

Speaking valve trials: A speaking valve, often a Passy-Muir Valve (PMV), is a one-way valve that attaches to the outside opening of the tracheostomy tube and allows air to pass into the tracheostomy but not out through it. This valve allows children to speak more normally. A trial must be conducted to ensure they can tolerate the use of a speaking valve in their daily life.

Speech and language evaluation and treatment: Our speech-language pathologists assess speech, language and cognitive-communication skills to identify any communication problems (articulation, fluency, voice, receptive and expressive language disorders) and the best treatment to help children improve their speech and language.

Swallow evaluations: To assess a child’s risk for dysphagia and aspiration, our therapists will ask about a child’s symptoms. A physical exam of the muscles used to swallow will be completed as well as testing of the child’s ability to swallow different substances.

TheraSuit method: This is based on an intensive and specific exercise program to eliminate pathological reflexes and establish new, functional patterns of movements. The TheraSuit provides proprioceptive feedback and aligns the body as closely to normal as possible via a soft orthosis consisting of a cap, vest, shorts, knee pads and shoes that are connected to each other through a system of elastic bands. Re-establishing the correct postural alignment plays a crucial role in normalizing muscle tone and improving sensory and vestibular function for patients.

Theratogs: This is an orthotic undergarment and strapping that gives a child with a sensorimotor impairment a way to improve posture, stability and movement patterns.

Therapeutic listening: During these sessions, children listen on headphones to specially recorded and enhanced music designed to provide sensory information to trigger a child’s attention and activate body movement to help improve self-organization.

Therapeutic compression: Garments provide deep pressure to help improve stability and decrease the effects of proprioceptive deficits.

Treadmill training: This treatment improves walking patterns and increases endurance, cardiovascular strength, walking speed, balance and weight-bearing.

Universal exercise unit training: This is a metal grid structure that uses pulleys, weights and bungee cord attachments to strengthen and elongate muscles. This system also allows for completion of activities in functional positions.

Upper extremity splinting and orthotics: Casts, splints and orthoses are devices designed to maintain the body in a certain position. They are used to prevent or correct deformities or to help children overcome activity limitations. Our occupational therapists may make these in our clinic or work with a local orthotist to provide patients with the support they need.

Vestibular rehabilitation: This is an exercise-based program to improve balance and reduce problems related to dizziness and inner ear dysfunction.

VitalStim: This non-invasive therapy helps swallowing through the use of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) to increase muscle strength and recruitment to improve a child’s swallowing ability.

Vision therapy: This customized program of visual activities is designed to correct certain vision problems and/or improve visual skills.

Wheelchair assessment, fitting and training: Physical and occupational therapists work closely with assistive technology professionals (ATPs) to evaluate a child’s posture and positioning in a wheelchair. Our therapists also work with children to improve their ability to move more independently in their wheelchair, as well as transferring in and out of their wheelchair.

Whole body vibration: Vibrations or mechanical oscillations are transferred to the body for therapeutic benefits.

Zones of regulation: A systematic, cognitive behavioral approach is used to teach self-regulation by categorizing the ways we feel into zones. This structure provides strategies to help children become more aware and increase their independence in controlling their emotions, impulses, sensory needs and problem-solving.