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Play with a purpose

Published in Pediatrics Author: Nicole Kothenbeutel, MS, CFY-SLP

Toddlers and children explore the world through play. This supports the development of a variety of skills to support participation in daily life. In pediatric rehabilitation, the same approach is used — playing with a purpose.

Using a family-centered approach, occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists promote independence and maximize a child’s potential across environments.

Occupational therapy can benefit children who have difficulty with:

  • Fine motor skills including cutting, grasp or handwriting
  • Self-cares including dressing, fasteners or completing grooming/hygiene tasks
  • Attention or sitting still in school
  • Motor skills impacting play participation
  • Sensory issues such as textures or noise

Occupational therapy also offers feeding therapy and is designed for “picky” eaters. This includes children who eat the same foods repeatedly, have eliminated foods from their diet or have a high level of stress surrounding mealtime.

Physical therapy can benefit children who have difficulty with:

  • Coordination
  • Climbing stairs
  • Riding a bike
  • Balance or are "clumsy"
  • Walking or crawling at the appropriate age

Physical therapy also can help infants with plagiocephaly/brachycephaly (a flattening or shortening of the head) and torticollis (tightened/restricted neck muscles altering the way a child may hold his/her head). Early intervention is key to begin corrective treatment.

Speech-language pathology can benefit children who have difficulty with:

  • Producing speech sounds correctly or fluently
  • Understanding directions or the speech of others
  • Expressing wants, needs, feelings or ideas
  • Communicating for social purposes and participating in social routines
  • Utilizing appropriate voicing and resonance for speech
  • Developing cognitive skills such as problem solving and planning

Pediatric occupational and speech therapy services are available through CentraCare Health – Paynesville and Richmond clinics. Physical therapy is available through the Richmond clinic. These services are appropriate for infants through adolescents and also are available at other CentraCare locations. If you believe your child could benefit from these services, please contact your child’s health care provider for a referral.