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news News Friday, December 29, 2017 Friday, December 29, 2017 9:26 AM - Friday, December 29, 2017 9:26 AM

Restoring function, increasing independence

Rehabilitation services at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville

Restoring function, increasing independence

It may look like fun and games, but the work in Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville’s rehabilitation services department is serious business.

“The more closely therapeutic activities relate to the child’s interests and daily routine, the higher the level of enthusiasm and participation on the part of the child,” said Suzanne Cherry PT, DPT, PCS and director of rehabilitation services. “Therapies disguised as play encourage the child to participate longer, and with purpose and excitement.”

Therapists use multiple treatment approaches, customizing each to the unique needs of the patient. Dr. Cherry notes this could mean playing musical instruments, dancing or a game of catch — all with a therapeutic purpose.

Therapists are part of one of two disciplines: physical therapy or occupational therapy. Physical therapy focuses on gross motor skills, or movement and coordination of the arms, legs and other large body parts. Occupational therapy works more with fine motor skills, or movement and coordination of the hands and fingers in relation to everyday tasks. The goal of all therapists is to help children by restoring or increasing the ability to move, and to function within their daily lives at home, school and community activities.

At the Greenville Shriners Hospital, the process of supporting children and families begins with a conversation to identify the family’s concerns, followed by an examination and evaluation of the child. The evaluation may include assessments of mobility, neuromotor development, posture and balance, muscle strength, joint function and endurance. The ability to care for self, such as dressing or participating in childhood activities, such as sports or music, is also determined.

After a child is evaluated, a treatment plan is developed. Intervention strategies focus on meeting the medical, educational, developmental and rehabilitation goals of each child and family.

“Children’s interactions with their therapist may be brief, such as seeing them one time for a stretching program, or it may be recurring based on the child’s needs,” said Dr. Cherry. “Because of the wide range of children treated here, the therapists also have to be experts in providing individualized care for day-old infants to 21-year-old adults.”

No matter the age or treatment plan, therapists at Greenville Shriners Hospital are turning patients back into kids.