The current buzz-word in paediatric therapy is ‘intensive’, but what does this actually mean, and how does it work? How do the kids and families find the intensive experience? And ultimately… is it effective and is it worth it?
Based on the Neurological and Physical Abilitation Centre’s, better known as NAPA, experience of nearly 10 years of practicing intensive paediatric therapy – yes it is. It really is the key to making quick, and potentially substantial changes to a child’s rehabilitation journey (or as NAPA like to call it – Abilitation!).
Since opening in Los Angeles, California in 2008, NAPA has grown to be one of the world’s best and most respected clinics for paediatric disability intensive therapy. NAPA began it’s travelling clinics in 2011, bringing NAPA to the world, and at the beginning of 2016 the NAPA Centre in Sydney was established permanently sister clinic to LA. NAPA is now internationally recognised as one of the leaders in the field, with multi-disciplinary programs for children that really make a difference.
NAPA designs individually tailored, intensive and weekly therapy programs for each child’s specific needs and goals. A holistic approach, using progressive therapy techniques, and an excellent team with a ‘can-do’ attitude comes together to help guide each child to learn new skills, build strength, gain balance, and grow in confidence, in a fun, motivating, and friendly environment. Programs may range from 2 - 6 hours per day over 3 weeks, and involve a multi-disciplinary therapy team. Alongside the intensive therapy, NAPA also offers weekly therapy services for children living in Sydney.
Louise Conn, NAPA Sydney Clinic manager says “Our programs are different because they focus on the child as a whole person, working on their physical, sensory, communication and mental challenges, in a fun, motivating, supportive and positive environment. The most important person in the room is the child, and every minute of therapy time is devoted to helping them work towards their goals.”
There is the therapy … and then there are the therapists!
There are different types of Suits and techniques out there, but ultimately, any Suit is a tool and is only as good as the therapist’s skills, and that can make the special difference.
NAPA’s multi-disciplinary therapy team of specialised paediatric physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists are highly educated, highly trained, and highly motivated to be the best they can be. They work closely as a team to devise the programs that will make a tangible difference.
Clare MacFarlane, physiotherapist and Director of Therapy at NAPA explains, “We use a combination of traditional therapy, as well as developing and using amazing alternative methods from around the world such as NAPA’s own NeuroSuit, MEDEK exercises (CME), or VitalStim for swallowing, that have proven to be effective techniques to encourage the development and improvement of strength, balance, stamina and co-ordination in gross and fine motor skills, and communication and feeding.”
“We only hire the best therapists, the ones who will go the extra mile for a child, the ones with the best handling skills, with top qualifications and training from around Australia and the USA, the ones
who have a smart and inquiring mind, and are willing to think outside of the box to inspire a child to push through their comfort zone and really do something amazing. The whole team works really hard, crawling, rolling, lifting, climbing, and more with the kids, but they also make it imaginative and really fun. We adore the kids, and we think they are pretty fond of us too!”
Jo Freeman, mum of Cooper (4) travels regularly from the NSW Central Coast to NAPA. She says “We started our NAPA journey in August 2015 – not long after Cooper’s 3rd birthday. We didn’t know what we were missing in terms of therapy until we found NAPA. We were living in the Hunter Valley receiving weekly/fortnightly therapy, but always wishing there was something more we could be doing. Little did we know from a short conversation with a friend our therapy world, and lives, were about to take a dramatic turn for the better. It’s not just the intensive model that is mind blowing for us; it’s the amazing team of therapists NAPA has put together, truly second to none. I honestly don’t believe we would be in the position we are today, and Cooper amazing his doctors, without NAPA – they are the very best. When asked by friends “why NAPA? “, I say ‘It’s Disneyland for special needs – a place you want to keep going time and time again.’”