Our physical therapy center offers innovative therapies, including intensive physical therapy. Our mission is to help children and adults with cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular disorders achieve greater independence by providing comprehensive and intensive physical therapy programs.
Our unique approach helps accelerate progress in motor skills. Intensive therapy can provide strengthening, flexibility, increased endurance and enhanced functional skills. Many patients acquire skills such as rolling, crawling, sitting, and/or walking which they have never been able to do prior to participating in this type of physical therapy program.
Hyperbaric Healing Institute, Inc. provides Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Physical Therapy under one roof.
Functional and Developmental Physical Therapy
We offer the traditional model of outpatient pediatric and adult therapy, in which the client participates in anywhere from one to several sessions per week, each lasting one to two hours.
Intensive Physical Therapy
Therapy sessions last from 2-4 hours, five days per week, usually for three weeks. This type of therapy is particularly beneficial for individuals with neuromuscular disorders, such as cerebral palsy, stroke, or traumatic brain injury, or for intensive rehabilitation following surgery or Botox injections for spasticity.
The intensive method of therapy is being embraced by an increasing number of pediatric therapy clinics. Typically the term “intensive” describes therapy that occurs for multiple hours on a daily basis for a limited number of weeks. The idea behind intensive therapy is to train or retrain the brain and body to work together by teaching high repetitions of movement patterns and exercises in a concentrated period of time.
Intensive therapy for children has been in practice for years in European countries. American families who were interested in this innovative approach would travel for weeks at a time for their child to participate in intensive therapy programs overseas. Since the late 1990s, the idea has begun to spread across the United States. Now families have more than 40 clinics to choose from in the U.S. Each clinic may vary in its individual approach, but they share the basic concept of short duration, intense daily therapy.
Most children who require physical therapy for chronic developmental conditions receive hour-long therapy sessions one or two times per week on an ongoing basis for years. A child’s progress is measured on an individual basis, based on objective and subjective report of the therapist and family. Although large-scale research has not been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of this ongoing model of therapy, it has long been accepted by the therapy community and reimbursed by insurance companies. Similarly, progress using the intensive model of therapy is measured on an individual basis, using common therapy tests and measures, as well as the goals of the family, to establish if acceptable progress is being made. What therapists and families are finding is remarkable: Children can make measurable gains in a fraction of the time by condensing months’ worth of therapy into a few weeks.
For children with neuromuscular disorders, such as cerebral palsy, intensive therapy provides the opportunity to practice correct movement patterns repetitively in a controlled environment. This repetition and consistency is necessary for neurological reeducation, which means the brain is being taught to automatically use the correct pattern of movement.
Children with developmental delays, such as Down’s Syndrome, can also benefit from the intensive model of therapy. All children learn by process of trial and error. A child attempts a new skill many times, learning many ways that do not work before achieving success. A child with developmental delays may require more trials before mastering a new skill. Intensive therapy allows for many repetitions of functional skills, to facilitate mastery in a shorter time frame.
If children have muscle weakness that is contributing to their delayed motor development, strengthening may be a necessary component of the therapy plan. Physical therapists know that muscle does not become stronger if it is challenged on an inconsistent basis. Just as a person will not get stronger by going to the gym for one hour per week, a child’s muscles will not get stronger with therapy once per week. Intensive therapy allows the therapist to use strengthening exercises consistently to improve the child’s flexibility and strength. With this new strength, new functional skills are possible. Once the child is utilizing his new strength in a functional way, for instance in the ability to jump, the functional strength will be maintained.
Strengthening: Strengthening weak muscles is a big part of our intensive program. Muscles will not gain strength unless they are worked out consistently. Just as an athlete would not expect to improve by training one time a week, kids with weak muscles will not gain strength with therapy once weekly. By challenging weak muscles everyday, those muscles will respond by getting stronger.
“Magic Number”: Intensive therapy operates under the theory that brain development occurs when exposed to a “magic number” of repetitions. A toddler learning to stand up from the floor will attempt many times before mastering the skill. In children with neurological impairment, that number is thought to be much higher than in typical children. Through intensive therapy, we can expose the child to a high number of repetitions to facilitate mastery in a shorter time frame.
Consistency: With 2-4 hours of therapy daily, we have time to address all of the goals of therapy everyday, rather than having to choose one or two areas to focus on each session.
Faster Progress: Research indicates that the intensive model works to promote faster progress in the neurologically impaired patients than the traditional 1-2 hours of therapy per week.
Specialized tools/techniques we use:
Therasuit™: The suit is a dynamic orthotic worn during therapy. It is comprised of a cap, vest, shorts, kneepads, and shoes that are connected to each other through a system of elastic bands. It aligns the body, improves proprioception, and can provide resistance for strengthening.
Universal Exercise Unit: The UEU is a system of pulleys, straps, weights, and splints utilized to perform a variety of exercises for improving strength, active range of motion, and muscle flexibility. The therapist can isolate and strengthen specific muscle groups. The “Spider Cage” utilizes partial or full suspension in the UEU using elastic cords. This dynamic support allows the client to perform functional movements that would not be possible if unsupported.
Partial Weight Bearing Treadmill Training (PWBTT): By supporting a portion of the individual’s weight over a treadmill, he can focus on the movement of walking, without having to focus on balance and moving against gravity. This research-based tool has been shown to facilitate walking and improve gait.