Therapy Together

Apr 28, 2020 / Research & Innovation

Occupational Therapists Take Research Program Virtual

At Scottish Rite for Children, we are dedicated to putting the child first – always. During this time, our staff have become creative to make sure that commitment continues. Our Occupational Therapy Research team were in the midst of their newest research program, Therapy Together, when the pandemic started. This encouraged them to do whatever they could to serve these families and continue the project – even with the new circumstances. 

Through previous, ongoing research that focused on older children diagnosed with hemiplegic (one side of the body) cerebral palsy, Therapy Together was developed. Our team discovered the need to start this intervention earlier in the child’s life. Therapy Together is an eight-week education/demonstration program for children ages 3 months to 4 years 11 months who have been diagnosed or are at risk of developing cerebral palsy. Each week, the child and their caregiver attend group sessions with Scottish Rite staff to learn how to implement constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT) with their child in a home environment. This type of intervention puts the child’s stronger arm into a splint to force them to use the affected arm for all daily activities. 

Because of the pandemic, the families were no longer able to report to campus to learn these techniques, so our team got creative to keep the program going. Each Friday, research occupational therapists Angela Shierk, Ph.D., O.T.R., and Heather Roberts, Ph.D., O.T.R., provide education and support via Zoom meetings with the various families. Throughout the week, caregivers keep a log of the work they are doing at home. During the weekly call, they are able to get additional instructions and ask questions– making sure their needs are met and the child continues to receive the appropriate activities and exercises.

The impact of the Therapy Together program has stretched farther than just the patients and families at Scottish Rite. In February, the team traveled to Mexico for the Mexican Academy Meeting for Children with Cerebral Palsy. Prior to that conference, the team led a workshop where they had to opportunity to teach physicians and physical and occupational therapists about the Therapy Together program and how they could implement it into their respective institutions. 

“Our research has made an impression on experts who care for this patient population across the world,” says Shierk. “As a team, it is exciting to take the program virtual – doing everything we can to proceed as usual. Creating this new technique of teaching has allowed our team to enhance our skills – making us better at our job while also giving these families the tools they need to help their child.” 

Even through these uncertain times, Scottish Rite staff have found new ways to stay connected with our families. The Therapy Together program is just one example of how our research teams have adjusted to continue our commitment to putting the child first.

Learn more about our Neurology & Rehabilitation Medicine department. 

You May Also Like: