Donna Marr is the mother of Zach and Liza who have been going to therapy at Avera Marshall since they opened the new peds rehab unit.
There is something new at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center and it's having a tremendous impact on children and taking the toll of traveling off their parents. Last month in December of 2010, Avera Marshall and Big Stone Therapies developed a new pediatric rehabilitation program complete with a playground-themed rehab gym. Nancy Naeve Brown met a Tyler, Minnesota family who's already noticed a positive change in their children.
This may look like child's play and it's intended to feel like that to the children, but the reality is this is therapy at work building core strength, sensory skills and improving visual motor skills. 10 year old Zach Marr and his 5 year old sister Liza are both on the Autism Spectrum. The Marrs live in neighboring Tyler, MN and mom Donna would drive an hour and a half to Sioux Falls twice a week for therapy. A month ago that drive was shortened significantly when Avera Marshall partnered with Big Stone Therapies to provide pediatric rehab in Marshall. It includes occupational, physical and speech therapy. Liza has speech apraxia. It's a disorder that causes her to have trouble saying what she wants because her wiring is off.
Occupational Therapy Amy Wing with Big Stone Therapies says, "The movement makes sure all the neurons are firing in our brain and makes that easier and you tend to see an increase in speech production when you have kiddos moving."
Another activity Amy will do is to have the kids stand on a balance ball and catch balls. It works core strength and motor skills.
Amy Wing says, "We are really talking about self-calming things with Zach and really identifying how he's feeling and then how we can change that. How he can be in charge of how he feels if he starts to feel anxious or stressed out. What can he do to calm down that is an important skill for all of us to have. Again, we're practicing in this safe environment and then he can go out in his community and use those skills."
Their mom Donna says, "They have been doing great. Liza she's not been able to count past 3 and now she can count to 10. Zach is calmer, a lot calmer. We love the people here."
In case you're wondering how Donna and her husband deal with the needs of two special needs children, she says they do it without thinking.
Donna says, "Both are adopted. We adopted special needs children. It's what we were meant to do."
And by adding pediatric rehab, Avera Marshall knows they are doing what they were meant to do too.
Avera Marshall is throwing a party in the pediatric rehab playground and even some animals from the Great Plains Zoo will be there. It's on Thursday January 20th from 3:00 to 6:00. It's on the 4th Floor of Avera Marshall Medical Center. For more information call 507.537.9172.