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How Occupational Therapy Helps Children Recovering From Spinal Cord Injuries

Gillette Children's Occupational Therapists

Whether your child is recovering from a spinal cord injury or they have just had spinal surgery, rehabilitation is key. What many families may not realize is that there are many forms of spinal cord rehabilitation. One that is often forgotten is occupational therapy.  

Occupational therapy is meant to help children perform daily activities. Whether it is getting in and out of bed or playing after school, the team at Gillette Children’s works together to incorporate all forms of rehabilitation to help patients function after injury and/or surgery. 

Understanding how a spinal cord injury affects the body is the best place to start. Damage to any part of the spinal cord can cause changes in strength and body function. This can take a toll physically, emotionally and mentally. This is why seeking proper care is key.  

From the loss of movement to exaggerated reflexes and spasms, the providers at Gillette will work together to find a solution. Each care plan is tailored to the specific needs of the child.  

Spinal cord injury rehabilitation starts almost immediately and can be an ongoing process. Whether or not surgery is needed is up to your child’s health care provider. Rest and recovery is also a key part of the process. 

An occupational therapist works with a Gillette patient.

Tailored Treatment Based On Your Child’s Specific Type Of Spinal Cord Injury 

Gillette Children’s pediatric rehabilitation program is innovative and resolute. The first thing our team of occupational therapists will do is create a treatment plan based on the type of spinal cord injury your child is dealing with. For example, a cervical spinal cord injury affects the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers. Because of this, spinal cord injury rehabilitation will assist with completing activities such as getting dressed, eating and brushing one’s own teeth. 

A thoracic spinal cord injury, on the other hand, affects the hands, upper chest, trunk muscles and abdominal muscles. Our occupational therapists on the pediatric rehabilitation team can help find ways for your child to bath, complete household chores and strengthen their mobility skills. 

After a lumbar spinal cord injury, the hips and legs are most affected. Our team can help with your child’s endurance and balance skills. From strengthening exercises to learning how to use a walker and/or wheelchair, the goal is to have them make a meal, wash dishes or participate in any other form of daily living. 

Regardless of what type of injury your child is going through, the important thing to remember is that there are ways to make life sustainable again. Remaining patient, asking questions and being supportive are the best ways you can help, as a parent. You can rest assured that your child is receiving the best possible care. 

What Does An Occupational Therapist Do? 

An occupational therapist’s job is to help your child with the skills they need in order to live a functional, happy life. Making everyday tasks adaptable is a key component of spinal cord injury rehabilitation. Eating utensils, bath chairs and a smart phone are all ways to help with day-to-day tasks. Evaluating what tools will be most beneficial is a key part of their job. Whether it is strengthening their muscles or assessing their need for specialized equipment, our occupational therapists help in all aspects. 

Occupational therapy is key in regaining self-sufficiency. Our pediatric rehabilitation program is committed to helping those who need it most. Working with your health care provider, Gillette Children’s is here to provide you with the answers you and your family need. We are here to support you in every way possible.

An occupational therapist works with a Gillette patient.