| Washington Elks Therapy Program for Children

One year ago, 4-month-old Thea was admitted to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital under very scary circumstances… Previously a healthy infant, Thea was now experiencing fever activity and disinterest in feeding – a red flag for any parent. The onset of seizure activity and a diagnosis of septic shock led to a 6-day stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where Thea received the medical care she needed. A feeding tube was inserted through her nose, as she was too sick to take a bottle. Thea survived the E coli infection that somehow entered her body, but she developed chronic lung disease. She returned to her home on antibiotics and was able to resume bottle feeding.

Developmental milestones were not being met in a timely way during the early months after Thea’s hospitalization. She was weak, and had become a floppy baby; she cried easily due to her limited ability to access things in her environment. Thea also displayed hypersensitivity when her arms or hands were touched or came in contact with unfamiliar textures. This led to a referral to the Elks Therapy Program, and weekly occupational therapy visits were initiated. At that time, Thea demonstrated minimal variety in her movement patterns and was stressed whenever challenged to shift her weight to reach, or change her position. Fortunately her mental, language, and hand skills had been progressing nicely.

After nearly losing their daughter to an infection, Thea’s parents were not eager to place demands on her at 10 months old. Through parent education, demonstrations, home programming and a high level of commitment on the part of mom and dad, Thea is now up on her feet, keeping up with her 3 older siblings and chattering with early words. She currently displays some aversion to certain foods, and she still shudders when touching Play Doh! There are some ongoing disruptions in sleep patterns, as well. All of these concerns fall within the scope of occupational therapy practice. Thanks to the Elks Therapy Program, Thea will continue to receive the intervention she needs in order to keep up with her active siblings!

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