Intensive Suit Therapy
The intensive therapy model has been popular in many European countries for decades, and has recently become a method of therapy in many pediatric clinics in the United States. Intensive therapy focuses on repetition of movement and developmental skills to train and retrain the brain, allowing them to become automatic and more normalized.
Intensive suit therapy allows for amazing results: children make significant gains in just 3 weeks. It can accelerate children’s progress in sensory processing and motor skills through strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, coordination, vestibular, and enhanced functional skill training. Children who undergo intensive therapy has acquired skills like rolling, crawling, sitting, standing and walking, which they may not have beenable to achieve with traditional therapy or would have taken many months or years to achieve. Children have also demonstrated improvement with sensory processing and social skills, allowing them to better engage and focus on tasks, and interact with others.
Intensive suit therapy is safe when administered by a licensed and trained therapist.
It can help children with various disabilities (not limited to):
• Autism Spectrum Disorder
• Sensory-Processing Disorder
• Cerebral Palsy
• Ataxia and athetosis
• Hypertonia and hypotonia
• Post-Stroke (CVA)
• Traumatic Brain Injury
• Down Syndrome and other genetic disorders
• Developmental Delay
The research and development of suit therapy began in Russia’s space program, which resulted in the Penguin suit, a special, lightweight suit to be worn in space flight to counteract the harmful effects of weightlessness on the body: bone density loss, altered integration of sensory and motor responses, muscle atrophy, cardiovascular deconditioning, and bodily fluid imbalance. For many years, the Penguin was used successfully with astronaults to prevent disabilities. This technology was later shared with professionals in rehabilitation. The Pediatric Institute of the Russian Academy of Science team developed the Adeli Suit for children. Their successful results opened the door to a whole new application for suit therapy as the Adeli suit became a viable component for treatment of cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders.
The TheraSuit, a modified version of the Adeli suit, was designed by the polish therapists Richard and Izabela Koscielny, who are the pioneers of intensive suit therapy in the United States and abroad. Our therapists have been fully trained in the TheraSuit Method.
Benefits of Intensive Suit Therapy
TheraSuit is a breathable dynamic soft orthosis. It consists of a vest, shorts, knee pads, shoe attachments and a hat, which are fully connected by elastic bungies to realign and load the body. Functional activities such as rolling, sitting, kneeling, standing and walking are performed with the suit to facilitate mastery of skills.
The benefits of TheraSuit are as follow:
• Retrains the central nervous system
• Provides proprioceptive input (pressure from the joints, ligaments and muscles) which improves body awareness
• Improves sensory processing
• Improves muscle tone
• Improves strength through resistance
• Provides stabilization and supports weak muscles
• Improves posture
• Improves endurance
• Reduces pathological reflexes
• Reduces uncontrolled movements in ataxia and athetosis
• Improves balance and coordination
• Facilitates proper movement patterns
• Improves gait pattern
Precautions and Contraindications
There are precautions and contraindications to the use of the suit, and modification to our intensive therapy session can be made to ensure safety. Therefore, we require that all of our patients receive medical clearance from their physician prior to participating in our intensive suit therapy.
Caution is taken when using the suit on children with the following conditions:
• Heart conditions
• High blood pressure
• Uncontrolled seizures
• Hydrocephalus (VP shunt)
• Hip Subluxation less than 50%
• Kidney Problems
• Recent surgeries
Contraindications to the suit include:
• Hip subluxation greater than 50%
• Severe scoliosis
• Recent Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (unless medical clearance is obtained by the neuro surgeon )
Children under the age of 2 ½ years may be able to wear the vest and shorts portion of the TheraSuit. Children who are very small and the suit is not appropriate can still benefit from the intensive component of the therapy program.
Our Intensive Therapy Program
Our intensive therapy is customized to meet the child’s individual needs. We offer 3- 4 hour sessions, 5 days per week for 3-4 weeks. The number of hours and length of program may be modified based on the child’s needs.
Children of any age can benefit from intensive therapy. We often modify our intensive program to 2 hours per day for children under the age of 1 year.
During our therapy session, the child is treated by one therapist only, except when unusual circumstances arise. This allows for fluidity and continuity of care, maximizing the child’s success.
On the first day of intensive therapy, a thorough evaluation is made and a plan of care is developed according to the observations of the therapist and the goals of the child and/or parents.
During the session, we utilize a wide variety of equipment as appropriate for each child, including the Universal Exercise Unit, parallel bars, stairs, ceiling track system, treadmill, and Freedom ConceptsTM tricycle. Refer to “Our Equipment” page for details.
We encourage parent observation and involvement during the session, because we believe that active parents play an important role in their child’s road to success. At the last day of the intensive program, the family receives and is trained on a home exercise program with the child’s own pictures and description of each exercise.
Many children combine intensive therapy with other therapies we and our partners offer (refer to “Other Therapies” page for details):
• Occupational therapy
• Speech therapy
• Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment by Creation’s Own/ICDRC
• Swimming lessons by Safety Suzie Swim School
• Therapeutic Riding by Harmony Farms
Please contact us if you would like to tour our facility or know if intensive therapy is appropriate for your child.