Children and adults with cerebral palsy often battle muscle spasticity that is exhibited as jerky movements, muscle tightness, and joint stiffness. Treatment for cerebral palsy is multifaceted, many times requiring multiple doctors and therapies. If just the right approach can be found, a child or adult's condition can be improved.
"There's never one answer," Cindy Van Horn, a physical therapist at The Learning Center said. "There are four of five answers."
So what if therapists could be given a new way of looking at things--a new approach to problem-solving for their patients.
"It is a course that fundamentally changes the way you treat and the way you practice. The way you look at your treatments and how you provide them for children," Van Horn said. "It was developed specifically for children with cerebral palsy. But, now we know it works for all types of children with motor disorders including Down's Syndrome."
Van Horn had taken part in a specialized program herself after her initial certified training to become a therapist. She knew how costly it could be to travel to a larger city and be away from work. But, when such a program came to the Mid-South, she saw a chance for therapists at TLC to get this valuable certification in neurodevelopment treatment. But how to get it funded was the big question.
Van Horn appealed to UCP of Northeast Arkansas for part of the funding. Nearly $12,000 was allocated for the certification.
"It was such an opportunity, such a gift," Van Horn said. "It would not have been possible, not have been possible at all without UCP support. But the community, and especially anyone that ever falls into a situation where their child, their grandchild, their grandchild, their relative, their neighbor has cerebral palsy or any motor disorder, they can now benefit for years and years and years because you don't lose those skills."
The course involved a major commitment. The eight-week course requires weekday travel to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, intense study, and coursework for 40 hours a week. The one-time course offering is usually made available in locations far from Region 8—so the drive to Memphis allowed therapists to return home every day and there no expenses for hotel rooms.
"It has been a decade since one had been held here, near here," Van Horn said. "Near here meaning Little Rock or Memphis. We had even been watching for one in St. Louis." The course allowed for treatment strategies to improve on problem-solving. "We wanted for Northeast Arkansas so badly for them to have a level of care that you never felt like you needed to send your child anywhere else," Van Horn said. "I promise you, in other states, people are on a waiting list for a year or two to get into a therapist with these kinds of certifications and training."
Monies raised from the UCP Telethon helped to make this kind of training possible for local therapists.
"It's a big deal. We're still doing the same thing—loving and caring for our kids," Van Horn said. "But, I feel very comfortable knowing that they are getting the best—the very best they can get. They're getting the very best care!"
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