Evidence Based Treatment at the Boston Ability Center: Torticollis and Plagiocephaly

I recently traveled to Connecticut to attend the “Torticollis & Plagiocephaly: Assessment & Treatment of Infants & Children, Pulling It Together” course by Cindy Miles. Congenital Muscular Torticollis is characterized by side bending of the head to one side and rotation of the head to the opposite side due to a tight sternocleidomastoid muscle.  You may see your child preferring to tilt to one side and/or preferring to turn their head to one side.  Plagiocephaly is flattening of the head on one side.   

The incidence of Torticollis and Plagiocephaly has increased since the rise of the Back to Sleep campaign.  There are estimates that 1/6 infants have Torticollis.  Torticollis affects the entire child including visual tracking, sensory awareness, gross motor skills, head shape, feeding, and the vestibular system.  To decrease an infant’s risk for Torticollis and Plagiocephaly, parents should place their infant on their tummy to play starting on day one of their life.  Additionally, an infant should receive at least 60 minutes of supervised tummy time per day.  This position increases the baby’s strength and control of their muscles as well as provides sensory input to the face and oral motor area. 

During this course, I learned additional examination techniques as well as interventions including stretching, positioning, and strengthening to help infants with these diagnoses.  Receiving physical therapy early leads to good outcomes.  If you suspect your child has Torticollis and/or Plagiocephaly, come see us at the Boston Ability Center to schedule an initial physical therapy evaluation.

Jenna Szilagyi, PT, DPT

Meet Kaila, PT Student

Kaila is a student at MGH Institute of Health Professions completing her doctorate degree in physical therapy. She received her undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Education Studies from Colorado College in 2013. Her interest in physical therapy stems from her background volunteering and working in adaptive sports over the past ten years. As a ski instructor, she specializes in teaching those with developmental delays and visual impairments. She is excited to be joining BAC for her third and final clinical affiliation. She completed her previous two affiliations at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital- Cape Cod and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital. In her free time, you’ll likely find Kaila coaching out on the ski mountain, backpacking across mountains, or reading a book.

We look forward to having Kaila a part of our BAC team!

Fitness Friday: Swings

It is that time of year when kids LOVE to be outside (no matter how hot it is!) and parks, especially swings are a favorite activity!

When swinging, practice pumping legs to swing yourself. Kick as you come forward (“kick the sky” or give feet high fives) and bend knees as you swing back (“turtle legs”).

See how many times you can kick the sky and have turtle legs in a row!

What Makes BAC Unique?

One of the most unique and beneficial aspects of the Boston Ability Center is our ability to offer co-treatment sessions for our patients. During a “co-treat” children receive two of their services together for 15, 30, or 45 minutes. Patients can target their OT and speech-therapy, OT and PT, or speech therapy and PT goals while they complete various activities in our large motor space or in one of our individual treatment rooms. This treatment model allows clinicians to collaborate as they target various aspects of treatment, and encourages our patients to utilize multiple skills at once. Co treatment sessions also provide clinicians with additional insight regarding specific activities, goals, and supports.

During a co-treat, our occupational therapists may shed light on sensory or tactile areas to consider, our speech-therapists can model language on an alternative augmentative communication device, our physical therapists can provide awareness about body positioning and strength, and much more! Co-treatment sessions also offer scheduling benefits for many of our busy families! The Boston Ability Center takes pride in this multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach to treatment.

Treadmill for Students with Autism and Apraxia (TAAP)

Written By: Jenna Colton, DPT

I am excited to bring TAAP to the Boston Ability Center!

I recently attended a course called TAAP (Treadmill for Students with Autism and Apraxia) where I learned how to further utilize the treadmill during my physical therapy sessions to aide in improving children’s gait, coordination and visual motor skills. I then had the opportunity to educate my colleagues on the TAAP protocol during staff meeting where we discussed how all three disciplines: PT, OT and SLP can use this program to help children meet their goals.

TAAP is an eight-week program that integrates visual and gross motor learning with the use of a treadmill. This program was created by a school physical therapist who wanted to aide children in developing and improving classroom skills including visual attention, transitions, fine, and gross motor skills. Additionally, TAAP works to improve children’s academics including reading, handwriting, and mathematics.

I learned that TAPP consists of 6 sequences that become progressively more challenging as the child improves. All of the sequences involve the use of a mirror to provide ambient and focal vision, thus aiding in the fusion of their visual motor system. The sequences begin with forward and backward walking on the treadmill. As the child progresses, worksheets and ball skills are incorporated. For example, children will complete scanning worksheets to improve their reading skills while ambulating on the treadmill. Also, to improve coordination, children can play catch while walking backwards.

We are currently implementing this program at the Boston Ability Center. We are having children practice walking and running on inclines, walking backwards, and practicing ball skills while on the treadmill. Additionally, some of our Occupation Therapists are having children complete scanning worksheets while walking on the treadmill to improve their visual motor skills.

Here is a picture of one of our kiddos completing a worksheet!