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Paediatric Occupational Therapy Team

Paediatric Occupational Therapy Team

Made up of eight occupational therapists and an occupational therapy assistant, the Paediatric Occupational Therapy Team works across the entire county with children aged 0-19 years old that have physical disabilities. Therapists visit children in a range of settings including homes, nurseries and mainstream/special schools, dependant on the child’s needs. As a team they support children to engage in daily living activities and achieve what matters to them as individuals and their families. The role frequently involves assessing the need for and providing specialist occupational therapy equipment. Seeing the positive results this therapy can have is hugely rewarding.

An example of one of the things the team gets involved with is helping children diagnosed with hemiplegia. Hemiplegia in infants and children is a type of cerebral palsy that results from damage to the part (hemisphere) of the brain that controls muscle movements. This damage may occur before, during or shortly after birth.

The term hemiplegia means that the paralysis is on one vertical half of the body. A similar medical term, hemiparesis, means a weakness on one side of the body. In children with hemiplegia, the paralysis in the body occurs on the side opposite the affected part of the brain. For example, if the left side of the child’s brain is injured, then the paralysis will be on the right side of the child’s body.

Each child will have different symptoms, which is typical of cerebral palsy. Some children may have all of the following traits, while others may only exhibit a few;

  • Keep one hand balled in a constant fist
  • Only use one hand when playing (this usually begins happening before the child turns three)
  • Face a delay in reaching developmental milestones
  • Have problems walking or keeping their balance when standing
  • Are extremely weak on one side of the body or experiences muscle stiffness

Children with hemiplegia are invited to attend therapy group sessions, along with home 1:1 sessions. This programme also focuses on bilateral integration (the use of two hands). A therapy assessment takes place at the start and end of the 13 weeks to see the progress a child has made, with this usually being very positive.