The NeuroSuit frames the body providing support and resistance simultaneously. It facilitates proper movement and provides additional weight bearing distributed strategically throughout the body.
NAPA’s Director of Intensive Therapy Services, Jess, is here to talk about the NeuroSuit.
Watch the video on the NAPA Facebook page here!
The NeuroSuit is a great therapeutic tool that we have been using at NAPA Center for many years. One thing I want to say right off the bat is that it is a therapeutic tool, not magic. However, we really like to impart the knowledge to our parents that the NeuroSuit can be very beneficial for increasing the overall benefits of your child’s pediatric therapy sessions. Now, let’s approach the questions we get the most: What is the NeuroSuit? Is it a pediatric compression vest? A weighted compression vest? How does the compression vest benefit toddlers and children? Is the NeuroSuit compression vest beneficial for autism or sensory processing disorders?
In the simplest terms, the NeuroSuit does three things: it loads (pressure), it compresses, and it aligns. I’ll explain a little bit about what I mean.
Is the NeuroSuit vest appropriate for my child or toddler?
Number one: If you are concerned about general posture and alignment for your toddler or child, that’s a win. NeuroSuit would be great for that kid.
Number two: The NeuroSuit may benefit children with general strength impairments. NeuroSuit is really good for activating muscles of the glutes, the lower extremities, and the back.
Number three: If you just really want to add an extra challenge and mix up the challenge of your general therapeutic activities, the NeuroSuit can be a really awesome addition to your therapeutic program.
NAPA Center is a world-renowned pediatric therapy clinic, offering pediatric therapy for children of all ages in traditional or intensive settings. With six clinic locations and intensive therapy pop-up sessions worldwide, NAPA is committed to helping children lead their happiest, healthiest lives. At NAPA, we take an individualized approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. For this reason, no two therapeutic programs are alike. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customized program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals. Let your child’s journey begin today by contacting us to learn more.
MNRI stands for Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration. It was developed by Dr. Svetlana Musgatova, a psychologist out of Russia who felt that the preferred cognitive approach was insufficient when working with children, particularly those who have been through trauma.
As she developed her method, her research lead her to the work of reflex and developmental techniques.
This ultimately became the foundation of her work, focusing on developmental movement and reflex integration therapy which proves to facilitate sensory-motor processing and emotional recovery.
Her work expanded to a wider demographic of not only children but also adults with pathologies and/or trauma at the brain and central nervous system. The pathologies and trauma can occur in utero, at birth or during infancy prior to reflex maturation which can cause the central nervous system, sensory system and motor systems to be compromised.
Every human inherits primary movement patterns in utero. These brain stem level patterns are innately protective and essential to survival as we grow in utero, during birth and serve as a neurological foundation for development of learned sensory-motor movement patterns as an infant. In fact, they continue to support our development through out our lifespan.
When a child encounters an event or pathology that interrupts the integration of our primitive reflex the brain can get “stuck” at the brain stem level resulting reduced access to higher level motor skills, social-emotional development and learning. According to Dr. Musgatova and the MRNI approach, reflexes are categorized and defined based on their role in protection/survival, motor action, and level of neurophysiological circuits. Reflex can be defined as simple or complex and further categorized at central dynamic, central postural, peripheral dynamic and peripheral postural (2013, 2019, Svetlana Musgatova & Svetlana Musgatova Educational Institute for Neuro-Sensory-Motor and Reflex Integration).
Like all modalities and various therapeutic approaches, MNRI therapy assesses the child as an individual, taking into consideration their motor, emotional and sensory performance and needs. MNRI can make up an entire therapy session or it can be coupled with motor exercises to promote the functional use or integration of certain reflexes.
If you would like to learn more about MNRI, please visit their website or ask your NAPA therapist!
NAPA Center is a world-renowned pediatric therapy clinic, offering pediatric therapy for children of all ages in traditional or intensive settings. With multiple clinic locations and intensive therapy pop-up sessions worldwide, NAPA is committed to helping children lead their happiest, healthiest lives. At NAPA, we take an individualized approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. For this reason, no two therapeutic programs are alike. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customized program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals. Let your child’s journey begin today by contacting us to learn more.
BPsychSc (Neuroscience), UNSW
Maddie is a warm and caring Psychology student who thrives off the energy and positivity of children. She completed her undergraduate degree in 2021 with High Distinction in her Neuroscience major, and is continuing her studies in pursuit of Clinical Neuropsychology registration. Maddie believes every child deserves the best possible start in life and loves helping kids reach their full potential (and have a bit of fun) while at NAPA. Outside of work, Maddie enjoys playing the piano, gardening and stand-up comedy!
Before your child gets to NAPA, we know a lot about them. Our team reviews all of the paperwork you’ve turned in prior to your arrival. Patient intake, reports and evaluations, and anything else you’ve sent along will help us get a picture of your kiddo before they walk in the front door.
Parent and patient goals direct our treatment approach; we ask you what you want to work on and will design a treatment plan that meets your child where they are at on their journey towards those goals. Want to work on walking? We’ll help you identify the steps to get there whether it be more weight-bearing in the legs, using a gait trainer for the first time, or treadmill training in our cage. Better use of arms to support communication access? We’ll choose activities that promote upper extremity motor control and work with the speech team to help identify seating options and switch placements.
Our sessions are fast paced, packing in a lot of exercises each hour. We use modalities such as electrical stimulation, whole body vibration, the NeuroSuit, and SpiderCage which may be new to some families. Sometimes the exercises are hard and children may cry. Despite the novelty and challenge, our goal is to make therapy fun; we incorporate play, singing and snuggles into each session.
Our team of OTs, PTs, and SLPs come together to address your child as a whole being. We communicate regularly throughout the intensive with one another and you to discuss goals and therapy plans. This support team extends to you and your at home providers. Every child who attends an intensive session at NAPA is given a home exercise program to continue to build upon their progress. Throw on your sweats mom, dad, grandma or caregiver, because at the end of the intensive, we tag you in and give you hands-on practice.
What makes the NAPA intensive experience truly magical is the tribe that you will be surrounded by. Parents and children on similar journeys, therapists cheering on your child’s successes big and small, and support staff who check in and say hi each day bring a sense of special community to NAPA. Make sure to get to know your fellow intensive comrades, ask questions, and feel the support of your new NAPA family.
Lisa, an occupational therapist, is NAPA’s Global Director of Rehabilitation and a 10-year NAPA veteran. When she’s not treating or mentoring, you can catch her exploring her new hometown Denver and hiking with her family.
A peanut ball is a versatile therapy tool utilized by both physical and occupational therapists which can also be used for simple and effective home exercises. In this blog, we share some fun activities/exercises with a peanut ball for your kiddo.
Have your child straddle sitting over the peanut ball with feet planted firmly on the floor. The dynamic nature of the peanut therapy ball will challenge core strength and postural control. In this position you can practice reaching for toys (bonus points if you work on reaching across midline.) You can also try playing catch if your child appears to be balancing well or doing something simpler like reading a book/watching a show if your child is having a harder time balancing.
Have your child lay on their stomach over the peanut ball and plant their hands on the floor in front of the ball. Place toys or something of interest a few feet out in front of the ball. Assist your child (as needed) to maintain balance on the ball and walk their hands forward while rolling over the ball to retrieve the objects you set out. This exercise targets motor planning, core strength, and most of all upper extremity weight bearing/strength! It is similar to wheelbarrow walking with less strain on your back!
Have your child sit in the center of the peanut ball with both feet planted to one side (like sitting in a chair.) Place some toys behind the peanut ball towards the right and left sides. Assist your child by holding both knees while they lean back to pick up the objects off the floor and return to the sitting position. This exercise is great for general trunk stability and core strengthening. Have them reach for the toys on the right side with their left hand and vice versa to encourage trunk rotation and more oblique strengthening.
Does your child seek external sensory input and appreciate tight squeezes and deep pressure? If so, the peanut ball is a great tool to provide proprioceptive input for them. Have them lay on their back or belly on a mat and roll the peanut ball over their body in all directions to provide some deep pressure. This can oftentimes help children calm down when they are feeling overwhelmed or dysregulated.
If your child is efficient with cruising along furniture, a good way to increase the challenge is to have them cruise with their hands on a dynamic surface (like a peanut ball). You can utilize suction toys to place around the ball and have your child cruise along the perimeter of the peanut ball to retrieve toys and work on dynamic balance strategies.
If you have a child who is unable to hold the hands and knees position independently, the peanut ball is a great tool to help. You can place the ball under their belly with their hands and knees on the floor. This position is beneficial for upper extremity weight bearing tolerance and strength. If holding the position becomes easy, you can then work on reaching one arm up at a time to target posterior core strength and functional skills. For an even bigger challenge, you can work on kicking one leg out at a time to strengthen posterior core and hip musculature.
Have your child stand with one foot on the floor and one foot planted on the peanut ball. Hold this position for 10-30 seconds on both sides. If this is too easy, you can always play catch while standing in this position, practice kicking the ball after balancing without letting top foot touch the floor or work on reaching outside of the base of support while balancing. This exercise is a great bridge for kids who are not quite able to stand on one foot yet because it targets hip and ankle balance strategies, strength, and postural control.
As you can see, the peanut ball has a wide range of therapeutic benefits and can be a fun and engaging way to sneak some play-based therapy into your child’s daily routine!
Karleigh enjoys play based pediatric therapy as it gives her to the opportunity to create both a positive and exciting experience for children. Karleigh works at NAPA Denver and likes to substitute her desk chair for her favorite ball, the peanut ball.
At NAPA Center, we provide the best pediatric physical therapy techniques and tools from around the world, including DMI, SpiderCage, NeuroSuit, and more. We take an individualized approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. We embrace differences with an understanding that individualized programs work better. For this reason, no two therapeutic programs are alike. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customized program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals. Let your child’s journey begin today by contacting us to learn more.
The SpiderCage is a therapeutic tool that we utilize in pediatrics during both physical and occupational therapy sessions as well as intensive therapy when deemed appropriate. The Spider Cage provides external, body weight support via a dynamic bungee system which can be tailored by the therapist to benefit each individual child, depending on their specific needs.
If a patient is deemed appropriate for SpiderCage use, their therapist will begin by choosing a harness that fits appropriately. There is also a second, chest harness that can be used for individuals who need extra support throughout the trunk. Once the harness is chosen, the therapist will strap the harness around the individual’s waist (and potentially around their chest) securely and comfortably. From there, the bungies are attached from the cage to the pelvic harness at specific heights to provide partial body weight support. Once the individual is all hooked up and ready to go, the therapy begins!
This therapy tool is typically utilized with individuals who have difficulty holding themselves upright in various positions against gravity without external support. This may be due to increased muscle tone or decreased muscle tone, weakness, impaired balance, impaired spatial awareness or a variety of other causes. The SpiderCage allows individuals to initiate and experience movements and gross motor skills that otherwise may not be available to them.
The spider cage allows the therapist to assist an individual with exercises and activities in various positions that optimize motor learning and neuroplasticity. These positions include quadruped (hands and knees), variations of kneeling, sitting, and standing. The SpiderCage can also be used for gait training via body weight supported treadmill training. On top of that, this tool offers the benefits of improving strength, coordination, range of motion and endurance all of which will help individuals achieve their therapeutic goals and optimize daily function!
NAPA Denver therapist Karleigh enjoys play based pediatric therapy as it gives her the opportunity to be creative with her treatment techniques and create a positive, exciting experience for the children that she works with. Karleigh loves helping individuals recreate alongside their peers and has enjoyed volunteering for adaptive golf, swimming, and wheelchair/bike racing programs. In her time outside of the clinic, Karleigh can be found hiking, biking, running or exploring national parks (as she hopes to one day visit all 62)!
First and foremost, the use of a weighted vest with a child on the Autism Spectrum is merely a tool in the toolbox. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) often have difficulty processing and integrating sensory information throughout their day. It is important to work with an occupational therapist to explore a number of sensory motor strategies to help your child achieve their goals and access their environment more independently. The use of a weighted vest in pediatric occupational therapy practice may or may not be a tool that helps meet your child’s sensory needs but is likely worth exploring.
A weighted vest is a wearable garment with the capability of holding weight, typically a vest with sewn internal pockets where small ½ or ¼ pound weights can be placed. The weight and compression delivered by the vest provides proprioceptive input using deep pressure to the muscles and joints which sends signals to the brain helping a person feel calm and focused. On a potentially relatable level, it resembles a firm hug, without the emotional connotations!
The benefits can occur in a very wide range with the most frequently reported being increased attention, focus and concentration as well as an increased sense of calm and reduction in anxiety.
Additionally, other mentioned benefits include improvements in:
It is believed that when the central nervous system is well regulated, all physical processes are taking place more effectively. Due to this belief, the benefits of weighted vests may even extend to the child’s internal processes, including processing food more effectively, encouraging better sleeping habits, and impacting interoception (the sense of the internal conditions of the body including hunger, thirst, body temperature, etc.).
Due to limited scientific evidence marking the effectiveness of weighted vests, it is important to consistently observe a child with Autism when wearing this item. For children who are non-verbal, it is even more important to be observing and noting any displays of physical discomfort or distress. Additionally, for any child who is anxious, this added input may be more anxiety provoking and may not be the right tool to utilize. That being said, maybe the most important source of information regarding weighted vests or any other weighted items for autism is the child! Observing the child to see any changes in their self-regulation or attention or listening to any reports of “feeling good” or “I like it” may be the evidence needed for continued use of this tool!
There is no harm in trying a weighted vest on a toddler or child who has ASD. However, it is important to be working with an Occupational Therapist who has evaluated your child and can provide additional support through exploring this tool. Below are some tips to ensure the safety and comfort of your child while wearing this kind of vest.
Sensory needs constant change, and it may be worth putting it back into the mix down the road, while trying other tools or strategies!
Please consult your OT for details regarding above mentioned fitting as well as wear schedule for your child in order to optimize safety and functional use of this tool.
Courtney Shea is a pediatric occupational therapist at the NAPA Center in Boston. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors with her family and their dog Kolana. She is often caught overpacking for weekend getaways and adventures. If staying local she enjoys long distance runs along the Charles River alongside her husband taking turns pushing their son in a jogging stroller!
At NAPA, we take an individualized approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. For this reason, no two therapeutic programs are alike. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customized program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals. Let your child’s journey begin today by contacting us to learn more.
Happy National Occupational Therapy Month everyone! Today I am going to take you along a ride in the day of the life of a pediatric occupational therapist! Hope that you are all being safe, washing your hands, and connecting with loved ones at a distance. While things may look a bit different right now at what typically is our very busy clinic, I am tremendously thankful to have a bit of normalcy during these unprecedented times by being able to see a couple of the families I work with through telehealth. I will talk a little bit more about that later, but in the meantime, I will paint a picture of what a typical day usually looks like at the NAPA Center.
For those of you that may be encountering our blog for the first time, you may be asking yourself, what exactly is occupational therapy? While each occupational therapist’s definition may be different, based off of my various clinical experiences across different settings, I like to define occupational therapy as this:
Occupational therapy is helping an individual with the underlying skills that are essential to help them engage in activities to support independence, development, and personal meaning, defined as occupation.
Furthermore, what is defined as occupational therapy can vary from setting to setting. What I do as a pediatric occupational therapist may look different from what an occupational therapist might do in a skilled nursing facility, an oncology hospital, an outpatient mental health clinic, etc. Thus, what better way to hone-in on the what is pediatric occupational therapy than showing you what a day in the life looks like?
One of the coolest things about my profession is that I get to work with kids with a wide spectrum of abilities. For the sake of patient privacy, I will make up some pseudo names in reference to my patients.
He was born prematurely and has hemiplegic cerebral palsy, meaning that he has difficulty with the motor functioning and muscular strength on the left side of his body, and he is delayed on his motor milestones. Thus, my responsibility is to help this little dude develop the underlying skills that are needed to help him accomplish the developmental milestones that are essential for his age.
For Xavier, we are working on his ability to have more functional grasping of his left hand, his ability to have reciprocal movements in coordinating his left and right side, his ability to use his left hand for self-help skills, and his ability to work on coordinating his postural control muscles (the core muscles of his abdomen and back responsible for balance) to support his functional mobility. So, what might that look like? Well I mean, it’s pediatrics so of course EVERYTHING is in the context of play! Thus, I may set up a strategically constructed obstacle course that focuses on Xavier being able to execute appropriate motor milestones, such as working from his tummy to standing with anterior support, cruising to his left, squatting down to grasp toys with his left, and climbing slide ladders using both sides of his body reciprocally.
Delilah is an adorable 2 year old girl who is enrolled in our NAPA Kidz Academy. While she does not have a diagnosis, there are concerns regarding her age equivalency with her fine motor, gross motor, and self-help adaptive skills, so my responsibility is to get Delilah up to speed. Delilah tends to frequently fall accidentally because she has challenges with her postural control muscles, thus I set up an obstacle course with various dynamic (unstable surfaces) and help her figure out how to motor plan and safely traverse these obstacles. Dynamic is key, since it provides an opportunity for her to engage her core to bring her center of gravity within her base of support. Delilah demonstrates difficulties with sensory processing, especially with washing her hands. Thus, we do fun tactile play with shaving cream to help give her “My Little Pony” dolls a shaving cream bath, as a means to develop a more positive association with wet tactile mediums. Lastly, we finish by making a bracelet together using a stiff piece of twine and beads, with a focus on coordinating both sides of her body and using her fine motor precision skills to skillfully thread the bead onto the twine.
Intensive sessions are a bit different from traditional sessions in that with intensives, I have an opportunity to see a child and work with their family every day for 3 consecutive weeks. The child may receive anywhere from a 1-4 hour block combination of speech, physical, and occupational therapy, based on what is most needed to support that child’s development.
For this intensive, I get to spend an hour a day working with Jaden, a 5 year old boy diagnosed with Lissencephaly. Lissencephaly is a rare brain disorder where the brain appears to be smooth, rather than having grooves and ridges. The lack of brain folds develops difficulties with accomplishing age appropriate motor milestones, challenges with strength and coordination, as well as low body tone.
For intensives, the team formulates a plan of care to work on consistently executing 6-7 exercises over the course of a full hour targeting specific musculature and providing opportunities to master motor sequences. In addition, Jaden is wearing a NeuroSuit, which is designed to provide additional support to the body, but also provides increased resistance. Tension is strategically structured on the suit by through bungees set up by the therapist to facilitate proper movement and alignment, in addition to proving more feedback for the child to motor plan. Jaden’s activities are executed in succession, focusing on improving his motor planning skills, weight bearing, and trunk rotation. My handling technique is everything; I strategically provide enough support and stability for Jaden to feel secure and confident in being able to target muscles that are challenging for him. My support decreases as necessary as weeks pass, to continue to provide the just right challenge for Jaden to maximize his effort. Most of all, while we work hard, we have fun and it’s a great journey to experience collectively with the family.
I get to see more kids with varying degrees of abilities with different challenges, such as a little boy who is trying to expand his feeding repertoire, a young man with autism who is improving his sensory processing as it relates to function, a school aged girl who is trying to improve her attention and handwriting, and a little girl with global hypotonia who is trying to learning to sit upright while turning the page of a book.
However, I am also fulfilled. People ask me what I love about my job the most, and for me it is that I have the opportunity to help these kids self-actualize and become the best versions of themselves, all while I get to be a big kid playing with them therapeutically in the process. While no journey is truly linear, I can also say this:
There is no parallel for the joy that happens with the victories that come along the way.
Whether it be a parent witnessing their child being able to walk for the first time, a parent connecting with their child reciprocally because they now understand their unique sensory profile, or a child raising their arms in triumphant victory because they finished a challenging obstacle course in true America Ninja Warrior style. It is because of these reasons and more, that NAPA truly is a magical place.
We hope you enjoyed this day in the life of an occupational therapist as told by one of our very own pediatric OTs! Find more resources in our blog!
Jonathan always knew that his life purpose was to help people. An avid surfer, Jonathan discovered occupational therapy through the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation (a therapy organization that surfs with at-risk youth and Veterans who have PTSD using an occupational therapy framework.) To be able to do something he loves to do as a means to help people solidified his career path. Jonathan is passionate about pediatric mental health, family centered practice, and learning more about innovative evidence-based therapies. Jonathan refers to himself as an “oversized child” and loves the process of families working together to maximize a child’s full potential. In his free time, Jonathan plays basketball and music, dances, travels, watches his teams play, and hangs out with his friends and family (most especially his dog!)
Looking for more OT fun? Check out Jonathan’s video sharing hand-eye coordination activities!
At NAPA Center, we take an individualized approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. We embrace differences with an understanding that individualized programs work better. For this reason, no two therapeutic programs are alike. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customized program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals. Let your child’s journey begin today by contacting us to learn more.
NAPA Center is a world-renowned pediatric physical therapy clinic, offering intensive sessions worldwide in addition to traditional weekly therapy at our four US clinics (Los Angeles, Boston, Austin, and Denver) and our two Australian clinics (Sydney and Melbourne). This blog discusses the importance of pediatric physical therapy. To learn more about pediatric PT at NAPA, visit our program page here.
There are considerable advantages when undergoing pediatric physical therapy that may not only benefit a child physically, but mentally too. Physical therapy helps children learn to successfully and independently perform gross motor skills and functional mobility skills. As a child begins to successfully develop these skills, it creates a greater form of independence that helps contribute to achieving a higher sense of self-esteem. Though physical therapy for children provides a safer form of development and strengthening, it is also capable of being an essential preventative measure by addressing any muscle imbalance or weakness.
You are probably asking yourself, what are the main benefits that come with pediatric physical therapy? We have listed below the essentials involved in our services, the benefits that come with it and the experience your child will get.
Physical therapy rehabilitation is extremely important after an injury. Oftentimes, it’s crucial for individuals who have undergone a surgery or suffered an injury to receive rehabilitative physical therapy services to regain the level of activity they had in the past.
Alternatively, physical therapy habilitation is imperative in helping kids with disabilities attain, keep, or improve skills and functioning for daily living.
NAPA pediatric physical therapists will work closely with you to identify your child’s goals. Common physical therapy goals for children include:
A variety of treatment interventions may be used including: developmental activities, therapeutic exercise, balance and coordination activities, adaptive play activities, mobility training, safety and prevention programs, and activities to promote overall wellness.
Your child may benefit from physical therapy if:
Pediatric physical therapy is essentially various workouts and exercises that focus on certain muscles and movements, which are aimed at strengthening muscles and tendons.
Physical therapy is very similar to going to the gym and working with a personal trainer, although the physical therapists that your child will work with are specifically trained and experienced in pediatric diagnoses and injuries.
It is extremely important for children to follow their physical therapy routine as closely as they can, due to the fact that they are growing while they are likely going through the process of recovery. The fact that they are growing means that it is even more important to address any concerns within a timely manner.
At NAPA Center, we provide the best pediatric physical therapy techniques and tools from around the world, including DMI, SpiderCage, NeuroSuit, and more. We take an individualized approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. We embrace differences with an understanding that individualized programs work better. For this reason, no two therapeutic programs are alike and we offer multidisciplinary treatments integrating physical, occupational, speech, and feeding therapy. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customized program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals. Let your child’s journey begin today by contacting us to learn more.