Therapies

Disclaimer

There are many therapies available today and what works well for one person may not be the most appropriate for the next. We have listed some basic information on a broad range of therapies that we have come across that you may want to explore for your child. We recommend that you look into any therapy that you are interested in and consider what will best meet your child’s needs and lifestyle. As always, if you are unsure please consult a qualified health professional e.g. therapist, GP or medical practitioner for advice.

Most states and territories offer government funded therapy such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, vision and speech therapy for individuals who meet the special needs criteria. Other therapies can be accessed privately and many attract private health rebates.

To ensure that your therapist meets your child’s needs we have compiled a list of questions to ask and a checklist of information to prepare:

Physiotherapy

Find a Physio – Click here to find a physio in private practice.

Physiotherapy as its name suggests is physical therapy involving the movement of muscles. Physiotherapists assess children’s muscle control, flexibility, balance, posture, then prescribe physical therapy and monitor development.

As a part of a tailored treatment plan they will teach your child how to control their head movements and how to sit, roll over, crawl and walk, as well as trying to inhibit abnormal reflexes and patterns of movement.

Physiotherapists also teach parents how to handle their child at home for feeding, bathing, dressing and other activities, and advise on equipment to help the child’s posture & mobility.

Occupation Therapy

Find an OT – Click here to find an OT in private practice.

Occupational therapy focuses on enabling people to do the functional activities of daily life. The very word “occupation” – means an activity which “occupies” our time. For children this can include physical (sit, stand, walk, feed, bathe, sleep), communication, play and learning.

Occupational therapists (OTs) assess children’s ability to perform daily activities then prescribe exercises, play therapy and tips and monitor development.

OTs also teach parents how to handle their child at home for feeding, bathing, dressing and other activities, and advise on equipment and toys to assist the child’s communication, posture, mobility, socialisation, play, learning and access.

Speech Therapy

Find a Speech Therapist – Click here to find a speech therapist in private practice.

Speech Therapy is therapy that enables communication (through speech and communication aids), as well as encompassing the management of feeding (oral motor skill) and swallowing difficulties.

Speech Therapists assess children’s ability to communicate, eat, drink and swallow then prescribe exercises, play therapy, tips (for communicating and feeding) and may recommend assisted learning devices (communication aids such as books, switch toys, computers).

Look for a Speech Therapy or Occupational Therapy (OT) Student to work with your Speech Pathologist/OT to help implement program at home. Post an ad at www.gumtree.com.au contact local universities, or join Agosci list serve.

The average cost of speech therapy is approximately $80 per hour.

Vision Therapy

Find a Vision Therapist (Optometrist) – Click here to find a vision therapist.

Vision is the process of deriving meaning from what is seen. It involves more than simply visual acuity (the ability to distinguish fine details). It also involves fixation and eye movement abilities, accommodation (focusing), convergence (eye aiming), binocularity (eye teaming), eye-hand coordination and visual form perception. Vision is not entirely innate but continues to develop after birth and is influenced by the visual environment and experience. If a person’s visual system has not developed to its optimal level, visually demanding activities may lead to inefficient or uncomfortable vision. Good visual acuity and healthy eyes are no assurance that an individual does not have a vision problem.

Vision therapy (also referred to as visual training) is a program aimed at remediating and enhancing an individual’s visual abilities. Its function is to:

  • treat existing visual problems such as amblyopia (lazy eye), eye alignment problems, eye coordination problems, poorly sustained near focus, inadequate eye-hand coordination and immature perceptual development
  • enhance the efficiency and comfort of visual function
  • help prevent some visual problems.

Each program of vision therapy must be designed to suit the specific needs of the child. Diagnostic testing, training procedures (play therapy & exercises) and the use of lenses and prisms may be integral components of the successful treatment of a vision problem. The frequency of consultation, the amount of home training and the duration of a course of vision therapy will vary depending on the specific needs of the child.

Behaviour Therapy (ABA)

ABA helps children to develop the social, academic, self-help and behavioural skills needed to interact with others and to cope with the challenges of everyday life.

ABA therapy takes the form of a highly structured program designed to meet the individual requirements of each child, while building the foundations for life-long learning.

An ABA Program involves one-on-one interaction between the therapist and the child, focusing on the development of:

  • Verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Academic and self-help skills

With early intervention and treatment, a significant number of pre-school aged children with ASD can achieve normal educational and intellectual function and become indistinguishable from their peers. Research has shown that at least 25 hours of intensive therapy per week is needed to produce long-term benefits.

Click Here for more information on ABA – Autism Behavioural Intervention Association

Watch the YouTube Video:

Conductive Education

To find out more about Conductive Education Click Here.

Conductive Education combines education, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, vision and speech therapy in a classroom setting. Its purpose is to assist kids maximize their potential. A crucial component of Conductive Education is the establishment of high self esteem and each participant’s belief in his or her own success.

Classes are in a group environment, where children are grouped with others of similar ability and age. Children are motivated to work both by wanting to keep up with his/her peers and to meet his/her own needs, rather than by expectations of the adults.

Classes consist of motor task series with song and rhythmic speaking, with emphasis on communication at all times and feeding and toileting in classroom breaks. The conductor/teacher sets appropriate goals and breaks up the motor tasks into elements. Although each member of the group is working towards the successful completion of a task, individual children work at their own level and to their own potential. The conductor paces, guides and encourages the children as they progress towards their goals.

Children are encouraged to use speech or inner speech to express/intend movement and this is followed by the movement. The speech and movement are carried out rhythmically e.g the conductor says “I stand up, up, up”. As the child or group carries out the task, a steady 1 to 5 rhythm is counted, or an aspect of the statement of intent is repeated e.g. “Up, up, up.” Rhythmic intention helps the child focus on the task and reinforce what he/she has to do, as they do it. It helps them think and plan what they have to do using repetitive language. Language therefore prompts the child to remember how to perform movements.

Lee’s comment: “Asialee began Conductive Education when she was 18mths of age. At this time she had poor head control, could not sit, could not control her arm or leg movements, reach, grasp or play independently, could not communicate verbally or through any other means, and had severe feeding difficulties (she was fitted with an NG feeding tube). Within weeks she learned to nod and shake her head to indicate yes/no, progressed to using a basic POD (communication book), learned to reach, grasp & press objects. Read her story to see other progress. I am so thankful for conductive education as it has enabled Asialee to communicate her needs to anyone and has given her access to play independently and with others! I cannot recommend any therapy more highly for children who have motor challenges!”.

Chiropractic

Find a chiropractor – Click here for the chiropractic association.

Chiropractors believe a well-aligned spine will give your body optimal nervous function, metabolism, flexibility and energy.

Your nerves carry the messages to tell each of your body parts what to do.

Did you know that that if your spine is misaligned then your nerves might not be working properly? This can affect your sight, hearing, balance, co-ordination, digestion, metabolism, hormones, heart, memory, brain function, muscle function, energy levels and MORE. For example many of the nerves controlling your sight stem from your neck so, if your neck is misaligned then your sight may be improved by chiropractic adjustments.

In babies, colic, sleep, constipation and feeding difficulties are common when the spine is misaligned.

Your spine can become misaligned from poor posture (common in children with special needs, especially those with inadequate seating or positioning opportunities), car accidents, falls, twisting, carrying excess weight, pregnancy (ligaments loosen) jarring activities, sports & babies’ spines can be misaligned during the birth process (even babies born by caesarian sections), and long periods of bed rest & some medications have been linked with spinal sublaxations.

The average chiropractic visit costs $60 for an initial examination, and $45 for subsequent visits. X rays are covered by Medicare.

Lee’s comment: “I am convinced chiropractic adjustments assisted Asialee overcome her severe reflux. She was vomiting up to 8x a day for several months (as a consequence of her severe CP) and within 2 weeks of intense chiropractic adjustments the vomiting subsided and we avoided the surgery the gastroenterologist recommended!”.

Naturopathy

Find a naturopath – Click here for the ANTA Australian Natural Therapists Association Link to Natural Therapy Pages

Naturopathic medicine can support underlying nutrient deficiencies and organ dysfunction contributing to the symptoms of diagnosed medical conditions, as well as supporting the body’s extra nutritional needs as a consequence of high physical, intellectual, behavioral, social, emotional demands on the body.

Naturopathy considers one’s epigenetics, family medical history, personal medical history, current symptoms, environmental toxin exposure, diet & lifestyle when assessing one’s condition and formulating a care plan that will support the body’s underlying nutrient deficiencies, and vital function with an emphasis on stimulating the body’s natural healing processes to bring optimal health.

Naturopaths can assess body organ function (i.e. digestion, muscle, heart, blood glucose, metabolism and immune) through pathology testing, family & personal medical history and cellular health analysis. They will often recommend nutritional and lifestyle changes and may prescribe nutritional supplements, herbal or homeopathic medicines to help you achieve and maintain optimal health.

Hence naturopathy can aid digestion, memory, brain function, behaviour, nervous system, muscle function, pain response, inflammation response, immune system, sensory function and any other body process and assist you reach your maximum potential.

The average naturopathic visit costs about $80-100 for the initial visit and $50 for subsequent consultations plus any costs associated with supplements and herbal medicine prescriptions.

Lee’s comment: “Asialee is almost 3 and has been a low weight as a consequence of her severe CP, severe feeding difficulties and constant aspiration of food. Medical specialists expected Asialee’s immune system and nutrition to be extremely compromised and that she would be susceptible to many viruses, flu’s and pneumonia infections that could be life threatening. I am confident that nutritional supplementation has supported her immune system and prevented this. Furthermore I believe some of Asialee’s astounding progress (physically & intellectually) is due to naturopathic care.”

Remedial Massage Therapy

Find a remedial massage therapist – Click here

Massage works on the body’s muscles and soft tissues and has many benefits to the muscles as well as other areas:

Muscles

Massage can relieve muscle restrictions, tightness, stiffness and spasm which may limit full movement. It encourages better muscle activity through increased movement of nutrients and removal of waste products. Massage can also delay muscle wasting due to disuse.

Lymphatic & Immune Health

By increasing circulation mechanically, massage can reduce swelling & oedema, particularly that associated with prolonged sitting/bed rest and disuse of limbs. Massage has also been shown to increase the presence of natural killer cells and their activity, suggesting that it may strengthen the immune system.

Digestion

Massage can increase movement of the large intestine, leading to reduced colic, discomfort and gas and improved bowel elimination.

Pain Relief & Stress Management

Massage can provide stimuli to modulate pain perception and decrease pain directly. Massage decreases stress levels by activating the relaxation response. Recipients of massage show an increase in dopamine and serotonin levels, suggesting a decrease in stress levels and depression.

The average remedial massage costs $80 for one hour and $50 for 30mins.

Acupuncture

Find an Acupuncturist – Click here

Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese technique that can stimulate the body’s natural healing processes.

An acupuncturist will assess current symptoms, perform tongue and pulse diagnosis before placing needles, Chinese cups or pressure on specific points. Acupuncture is well known for its effects on pain, but is also beneficial for the nervous system (aiding sleep, brain function, co-ordination, behaviour), digestion, immune, energy and muscle function.

A visit to acupuncturist often costs approximately $60.

Lee’s comment: “Asialee suffered extensive brain damage within hours of birth. She lost all muscle control and was unable to drink or swallow. I took her for acupuncture daily for 2 mths and she rapidly learnt to suckle from a bottle, her immune system was fantastic and she began to move her upper limbs within weeks of treatment.”

Osteopathy

Find an Osteopath – Click here

Osteopaths believe that the human body has all of the necessary elements to attain, and maintain, optimal health, and an in-built repair system that enables us to recover from injury and disease.

As with any system in the body, this in-built repair system functions best when the machine is functionally sound. By using clinically developed techniques, that promote sufficient blood flow, osteopaths help maintain optimal function of the internal organs, which in turn promotes and maintains the body’s balanced production of natural chemicals.

Osteopathy involves soft tissue massage, cranio-sacral therapy, muscle stretching and gentle joint manipulation and is said to assist brain function, hormone balance, metabolism, elimination, digestion, immune system and energy levels.

A visit to an osteopath costs approximately $70.

Lee’s Blog: “Asialee suffered extensive brain damage within hours of birth. When she was 2 months old she began osteopathic treatment. We noticed obvious improvements in her muscle tone, digestion and she seemed more settled and slept better at night. Her eyes seemed alive after her first 2 visits.”

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is the use of water in the treatment of disease. Hydrothermal therapy additionally uses its temperature effects.

The recuperative and healing properties of hydrotherapy are based on its mechanical and/or thermal effects. It exploits the body’s reaction to hot and cold stimuli, to the protracted application of heat, to pressure exerted by the water and to the sensation it gives. The nerves carry impulses felt at the skin deeper into the body, where they are instrumental in stimulating the immune system, influencing the production of stress hormones, invigorating the circulation and digestion, encouraging blood flow, and lessening pain sensitivity.

When submerging in a bath, a pool, or a whirlpool, you experience a kind of weightlessness. Your body is relieved from the constant pull of gravity. Water also has a hydrostatic effect. It has a massage-like feeling as the water gently kneads your body. Water, in motion, stimulates touch receptors on the skin, boosting blood circulation and releasing tight muscles.

Warm Hydrotherapy

Generally, heat quiets and soothes the body, slowing down the activity of internal organs. Warm hydrotherapy allows muscles to relax, and calms the nervous system and may assist those with muscle spasticity or high muscle tone aiding movement, pain, digestion and sleep. Some physiotherapists conduct treatment sessions in warm water for children with high muscle tone.

Cold Hydrotherapy

Cold, in contrast, stimulates and invigorates, increasing internal activity. Taking a warm shower or bath followed by a short, invigorating cold shower can help stimulate your body and mind and boost energy levels.

Lee’s Blog: “Asialee has a lot of muscle spasticity or tightness. We think she gets the most out of her physiotherapy sessions when they are done in warm water. She loves to swim and seems relaxed after each session. Look out for group sessions as these can be fun with other kids and lots of singing and gentle movement.”

ABR

ABR is a slow type of massage that parents/carers, learn through a trained ABR practitioner. ABR is not painful and can feel like a gentle wave moving through the body. ABR aims to improve the structure of the body and to build up connective tissue surrounding the body’s organs, which may benefit muscle tone and function.

ABR is a hands-on therapy developed by Russian mathematician Leonid Bylum. ABR may be beneficial for: cerebral palsy; speech development; ADHD; autism; stroke; downs syndrome; microcephaly; impaired development; epilepsy; head injuries; scoliosis; rett syndrome and others.

Parents bring the child or affected person with them to a workshop where they learn about ABR and how to apply the ABR techniques to the child or adult. The therapy is manually performed anywhere between 1-3 hours a day, or whatever the family can achieve. There is also a machine available for night time to increase the hours the child receives.

In Perth, Australia, there are two clinics a year. ABR Practitioners are always available via email.

Please see below for website information:

Perth (Australia) website

Singapore website

Inventor website

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy high doses of oxygen to the body. It is done by breathing 100% O2 through a mask or hood while inside a pressurized air chamber to treat brain injuries (resultant from a lack of oxygen). It is often used in combination with Lokomat (physical gait training) to retrain neural (nervous connections and pathways).

Generally simple uncomplicated cases require an initial HBOT introduction around the 40-60 hours mark to commence some form of healing and stabilization – patients typically report a positive change in their initial presentation indicating the condition is heading in the right direction. Stem cells can increase by 800% after just 40 hours of hyperbaric therapy.

Typically most brain and spinal cord patients require an absolute intensive base line of between 100-150 hours combined with Lokomat and assertive physical therapy programs. Complex conditions may require several hundred hours to penetrate the deeper neurovascular structure with blocks of sessions coordinated every 4-6 months after the initial saturation.

Initial Saturation 50-100-150 HBOT | 20-40-60-80 Lokomat | 2-4 Hrs HBOT/day | 1-2 Lokomat/day | 1-2-3-5 days week

Reconstructive Phase 2-4 Hrs HBOT/day | 2-3 days every 2-3-4-6 weeks | 2-3-4-5 months.

Boosters – short blocks intensive 1-2-3 weeks | 2-3-4-6 months

Hours HBOT Lokomat (HBOT) Lokomat ONLY 0-50 $140/hr $220/hr $280/hr 51-100 $120 $200 $250 101-150+ $100 $180

Expect to pay $12, 000 for a block of 100 hours HBOT and 20 hours Lokomat

Contact HyperMED for more info and for current fees (fees quoted correct at April 07).

Lokomat

Lokomat Robotic Gait Assisted Walking is based on the principle of neuroplasticity (the ability of the neurons in the nervous system to develop new connections and ‘learn’ new functions). HBOT is the fuel and acts as a catalyst to the central issue (hypoxia); Lokomat and other forms of intensive physical therapy validate; retrain and reconnects function. This combined approach ‘awakens’ dormant neural pathways and Lokomat provides accurate functional neurological repetition enhancing and validating neural connections and pathways in the brain and spinal cord. Patients have the ability to regain walking ability or learn to walk!

How long will the course of therapy take? The average patient attending requires an initial three to four months intensive saturation and will undergo around 100-150 hours of Hyperbaric Oxygenation and approximately 60-hours Lokomat. Typically patients attend and receive up to 4-hours of Hyperbaric Oxygenation and 1-hour of Lokomat each day attending. In addition other forms of appropriate physical therapy are provided based on the individual requirement of each patient. Each patient is re-evaluated at appropriate intervals; the HyperMED physicians and therapists will make any adjustments to the number of days per week and talk about the goals for the next phase of your child’s treatment.

Contact HyperMED for more info and for current fees.

G-Therapy

Click here for more info on G-Therapy and its fees.

G Therapy is a treatment for a variety of Neurodevelopmental disabilities like Cerebral Palsy, intellecutual conditions, Autism, Down Syndrome, Global Delays, etc. It is based on Homeopathic System of Medicine and hence inherently safe. A research study has demonstrated axonal regeneration and remyelination in some children using G Therapy, meaning nerves and some parts of the brain showed signs of regeneration.

The improvements start in the first four weeks of treatment itself and a significant change is usually demonstrated on the video after 8-12 months period after starting G Therapy.

G-Therapy can assist brain function, balance, co-ordination, muscle function, digestion, nervous function, movement, feeding. This therapy is claimed to assist communication, intellect and behaviour too.

Expect to pay around $1500 AUD for a 3 mth course

Lee’s comment: “Asialee used to drool excessively, saturating up to 5 bibs per day over a period of 6 mths. Within 3 weeks of commencing G-Therapy her drooling was at bay and she no longer needed to wear a bib after just 2mths.”

Bowen Therapy

Find a Bowen Therapist – Click here

Bowen is a gentle, remedial body technique, that empowers the body’s own healing resources, resulting in fast and lasting relief from pain and discomfort.

A treatment comprises sequences of small gentle moves, each at a specific site on the body (correlated with acu-points). There is not forceful manipulation, just a light cross-fibre manoeuvring of a muscle, tendon or ligament, pleasant to the recipient.

Treatments can be done through clothing when preferred, as no oils are used. Treatment sessions can last from 10 to 50 minutes.

Bowen produces an integrated body response, and consequently improves circulation, lymphatic and venous draining, assimilation of nutrients and elimination of toxins, joint mobility, posture, clearance of dysfunctional debris, normalisation of cellular physiology and tissue integrity.

Kinesiology

Find a Kinesiology Practitioner – Click here.

Applied Kinesiology is the evaluation of body function by using muscle tests and uses functional assessment measures such as posture and gait analysis, manual muscle testing as functional neurologic evaluation, range of motion, static palpation, and motion analysis. These assessments are used in conjunction with standard methods of diagnosis, such as clinical history, physical examination findings, laboratory tests, and instrumentation to develop a clinical impression of the unique physiologic condition of each patient, including an impression of the patient’s functional physiologic status. When appropriate, this clinical impression is used as a guide to the application of conservative physiologic therapeutics.

Applied Kinesiology reportedly:

  • Restores postural balance, corrects gait impairment, improves range of motion
  • Restores normal afferentation to achieve proper neurologic control and/or organisation of body function
  • Improves endocrine, immune, digestive, and other muscle/visceral function
  • Intervenes in degenerative processes to prevent or delay the onset of disease

Play Therapy

Find A Play Therapist – Click here

Play Therapy is where trained play therapists (often mental health professionals) use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development. Child Centered Play Therapy can be a beautiful and effective way to help children and works for children as counselling or psychotherapy does for adults. Child Centered Play Therapy helps children work through emotional, psychosocial and behavioural difficulties and helps address family problems.

Play Therapy sessions are usually held in a playroom that has a range of carefully selected toys and materials.

Play Therapy can assist children with ADD, Autism, Aspergers, high intellectual needs, behavioural challenges and special needs. Play Therapy is designed to help children grow up as happy and well adjusted as possible.

Play Therapy is very different to Occupational Therapy (which incorporates play to assist muscle function and performance of daily activities).

Music Therapy

Music therapy is an allied health profession. It is the planned and creative use of music to attain and maintain health and well-being, and may address physical, psychological, emotional, cognitive and social needs of individuals within a therapeutic relationship. Music therapy focuses on meeting therapeutic aims, which distinguishes it from musical entertainment or music education. People of any age or ability may benefit, regardless of musical skill or background.