Our inventive bioengineers customize technology to make your child’s life easier. For example, if your child has limited arm and hand movements, these professionals create systems so your child can dial or take notes on a cell phone, activate a television remote or operate a wheelchair with a sip and puff device.
These days, kids and teens are inseparable from their computers. Our tech gurus will adapt, customize and set up your child’s equipment. If your child has limited hand function or fine motor skills, they’ll find devices (called electronic aids to daily living) to enhance your child’s independence at home, school or work. These include emergency call devices, door opening systems, switch-operated phones, remote-control lights or fans and remote-control audio systems. They can be operated by infrared signals, radio frequency, WiFi or voice control.
If your child’s ability to communicate is limited, these bioengineers will create what’s called an augmentative communication device, which is a system (other than writing) that enables your child to make his or her thoughts and needs known. Examples range from low-tech, custom-made picture boards to high-tech, computer-based systems.
If your child has a non-degenerative, non-progressive neurological disability, his or her doctor may recommend biofeedback as a way to help your child have better motor cell functioning. Our Biofeedback Laboratory for Neuromuscular Re-education is one of the only facilities in West Michigan to offer this therapy.
Custom Orthotics and Prosthetics
Orthotics is the rehabilitation specialty that focuses on bracing weak or ineffective joints, muscles and bones. If your child needs a brace, his or her team will work closely with one of our on-site, certified orthotists who will evaluate your child, design a brace and then adjust it so it’s comfortable.
Prosthetics are a specialty dealing with the replacement of missing extremities or limbs, such as a hand, arm, foot or leg. Our on-site prosthetists design and build custom-made prostheses that can help your child to have an easier time moving and performing other acts of daily living.
Our Driver Rehabilitation Program is a valuable resource for transportation solutions best suited to your child’s needs, regardless of whether your child is a passenger, just learning to drive or a licensed driver who is anxious to get back in the driver’s seat. Driver rehab professionals:
• Assist with transportation evaluations and recommendations for safe child restraint systems for children of different ages, sizes and physical needs
• Identify car, truck or van modifications to accommodate child’s transportation or driving needs
• Identify specific adaptations such as hand controls, seat modifications, lifts or ramps
• Assess your teen’s driving skills
• Provide on-the-road driver education and training
As you’re getting ready to bring your child or teen back home, we want to make sure it’s safe and as convenient as possible. Your child’s occupational and physical therapists will discuss your home’s floor plan with you and may ask you to provide photographs or measurements to help determine whether any temporary or permanent modifications may be needed, such as the widening of doorways or installation of special equipment. On occasion, they may recommend an on-site evaluation if necessary.
Your child’s team may involve specialists from our Motion Analysis Center if needed for more precise evaluation of your child’s gait or other movements. State-of-the-art technology allows us to understand and measure the complex joint movements and muscle activity patterns and forces that impact how your child walks.
We provide a comprehensive look at how your child’s body moves during walking compared kids of the same age. This information can help your child’s treatment team to develop the most effective treatment plan.
If your child is going to spend hours each day in a wheelchair, it needs to be a great fit. The child’s treating therapists take the lead in helping you choose the type of chair to best meet your child’s individual needs. Our OrthoSEAT team can be asked to assist with more complex or customized seating needs. We may use computerized pressure mapping to help your child select the best cushion. This not only ensures your child’s comfort, but also helps to prevent pressure sores from developing. Your child’s wheelchair seating solutions may incorporate commercially available components or custom designed modifications. We do it all right here on site.
Spasticity is a common side effect of neurologic injury and is an involuntary contraction (tightening) of muscles. A certain amount of spasticity can help maintain muscle bulk and assist with movement, but spasticity that is extreme can interfere with functional activities.
Your child’s rehabilitation physician works with the rest of the rehabilitation team and with other medical specialists to monitor and treat your child’s spasticity. Treatment may involve medications (oral, injectable or implantable) or a variety of manual and other intervention. Some types of spasticity are treated surgically in combination with rehabilitation. Our team of experts collaborate to determine the most appropriate course of action for each child’s unique circumstances.
Your child may experience what’s known as dysphagia after a traumatic injury or illness. This term is used to describe swallowing difficulties that may occur at any point of the process, from getting and keeping food in the mouth, to moving food down the throat and into the stomach.
Our speech-language pathologists work with other members of your child’s treatment team to identify and treat problems affecting safe eating and swallowing and to prevent dysphagia-related injuries or illness. This may involve special evaluation of the swallow using x-ray technology to view internal movements and coordination of the muscles involved in breathing and swallowing.
Your child’s doctors and therapists may use some of our on-site, state-of-the-art tech tools to enhance your child’s therapy. The use of any particular therapeutic technology will depend on what the treatment team identifies as being likely to have a positive impact on your child’s recovery. Some of the technology includes:
• Dynavision 2000 or Vision Coach Light Training Boards – If your child’s vision or motor functions have been affected by illness or injury, therapists may use this tool to evaluate and to treat things like eye movement and hand-eye coordination.
• GIGER MD Therapy – Your child can work on re-educating muscles based on the audio and visual feedback provided by this full-body technology.
• LiteGait – If your child has suffered a stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury or other neurological injury, his or her therapist may use this harnessed treadmill system to safely work on things like balance and posture.
• Tollos – This is a ceiling track system that enables your child to practice walking while in a special harness that prevents falls.
• LokomatPro – This is a high-tech exoskeleton worn over the legs and used in conjunction with a special harness, treadmill and computer system to work on walking. It can be beneficial following various types of neurologic injury.
• Augmentative Communication – There are many types of devices that can be used alone or in conjunction with other technology to enable children with communication difficulties to more effectively express themselves.
• Ness H200 Hand Rehabilitation System – This arm brace uses electrical stimulation to activate the nerves and muscles of the arm and hand to help with things like reaching, grasping and opening and closing of the hand.
• Ness L300 Foot Drop System – This technology uses electrical stimulation to activate the nerves and muscles that control the feet and ankles to help individuals with certain types of neurologic conditions to improve how they walk.
• Neuromuscular Biofeedback – This system uses biofeedback to help your child re-educate muscles that no longer work as they should after neuromuscular damage.
• SaeboFlex – With the purpose of improving hand and wrist function, this mechanical orthosis may be helpful if your child has a neurological impairment.
• WalkAide – Your child’s therapist may work with your child on this lower-leg device if leg paralysis/weakness (otherwise known as “foot drop”) is a concern.
It’s not your ordinary pool. We can adjust both the water temperature and depth. Aquatic therapy is ideal because the warm water helps muscles relax, giving your child greater range of motion while increasing circulation. Buoyancy decreases gravitational forces so your child can move more easily.
The pool is a safe environment to work on muscle strengthening, flexibility and activities such as standing or walking that may not be possible yet to do on land. Our pool even has parallel bars. Our recreation therapists provide swim evaluations and teach water safety and adapted swimming techniques. Pool therapy with recreation is often one of the favorite activities of our pediatric patients. Parents sometimes join us in the pool, too!
One of your teen’s goals may be to successfully return to – or prepare for – the work force. We collaborate with Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS), a governmental agency that helps people with disabilities get jobs and become self-sufficient. An MRS rehabilitation counselor is available on-site to give your teen information about the program, perform an assessment and determine eligibility. Other MRS services include skills training, job placement, job coaching, assistive technology and transportation.
Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports
Your child’s recreational therapist forms a special bond with your child to help really understand what pastimes and activities matter most to your child. They’ll evaluate your child’s skill and mobility levels to match them to activities that will spark your child’s interest and engagement in the community. Rec therapists can provide education and leisure counseling to empower your child to return to the same, or new, leisure and sports activities with or without adaptation. (Learn more about Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports, including our Jr. Wheelchair Sports Camp.)