by Linda Thunn, PT, DPT, DMG CRS Physical Therapist
Pediatric physical therapists provide support and services for children (birth to 21 years of age) with developmental disabilities and their families. They aim to develop, restore and improve mobility to improve quality of life.
Pediatric physical therapy benefits children and their caregivers by promoting activity and participation in everyday routines, increasing functional independence, improving strength and endurance, facilitating motor development and mobility, and easing the challenges of daily caregiving.
A Wide Variety of Services
Not only do our physical therapists provide one-on-one treatment for our young patients in the therapy clinic, they also work in the following areas at DMG CRS:
• Amputee clinic
• Cystic fibrosis clinic
• Orthopedic clinic
• Myelomeningocele planning clinic: pediatric, transition and adult
• Rheumatology clinic
• Spasticity planning and follow-up clinic
Our physical therapists also perform equipment evaluations, trialing each child in specialized equipment before ordering it to determine what works best for them. Types of equipment evaluations that DMG CRS provides include the following:
• Adaptive seating
• Adaptive car seats (takes place offsite)
• Forearm crutches
• Gait trainers
• Wheelchairs (takes place offsite)
DMG CRS is thankful for our talented and compassionate physical therapists and are happy to take this time to recognize their hard work during National Physical Therapy Month. Thank you for all you do!
DMG CRS now allows patients to ”opt in” for services past the age of 21, and we currently have several physical therapists qualified to treat individuals over the age of 21. Adult patients with disabilities will be evaluated to determine if DMG CRS is the best fit for their individual needs. Call (602) 470-1520 to schedule an appointment.
by Linda Thunn, PT, DPT, DMG CRS Physical Therapist
Life with a special needs child or adult can be a complex, scary, and amazing journey full of ups and downs, triumphs and disappointments that affect the whole family. A good thing to remember is to think about the long-term outcome of a goal rather than just the immediate outcome. You may want your child to walk or talk, but that may not be possible. Therefore consider what can be done to support them in their effort to be the most independent and to find joy in their life.
Caring for a child with or without special needs is a marathon, not a sprint. You won’t always do the right thing, but with good intentions you will be on the right path. Below are three basic tips to improve wellness for the whole family.
We know we need to eat right and exercise, but when you have a special needs child, you may not have the time to do the “right” things for yourself. Incorporating easy wellness activities into your daily life could make all the difference. The act of deep breathing with intention can decrease your cortisol levels thereby decreasing stress levels. Deep breathing for a few breathes, 3 to 5 times a day, takes practice to become a habit and to be effective.
Try it right now! Sit down in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly breathe in through your nose, counting to five (using your fingers to count will slow your breath). Hold your breath for two seconds, and exhale through your mouth to the count of five. The goal is to have your midsection expand during the inhale breath and soften during the exhale breath with your shoulders remaining still. Repeat this exercise three times. As you continue this practice you can add repeated positive thoughts while you breathe. And as you improve, you will be able to incorporate this in your walking, standing and exercising.
Please take your therapists advice and include their information into typical activities of daily living. Whether you are working on sitting or walking with your child, you are promoting their independence. Ultimately all therapies are to promote progression to a less dependent adulthood. Please do not forget to play. Simple repetitive activities that are common during functional play builds pre-literacy, motor, and thinking skills. Whatever your age or skill level, everyone likes to participate if they are having fun. Arizona has a variety of resources for various skill levels, including adaptive parks and sports. Also family based physical activity increases the health and wellness of your family unit.
3. Community Resources
If you have access to the internet, search for community resources in your area by using terms such as “adaptive recreation” or “adapted technology,” and tailor the search to your child’s age based needs. Participate in the special programs that your child’s school offers, and if your child is going to the Special Olympics games, go with them or volunteer at an event. Another good resource are the support personnel in your child’s life, such as DMG CRS child life specialists, case workers, providers and therapists. For example, I have created the go-to document Arizona Community Sports and Programs for Children and Adults with Special Needs. That would be a great place to start improving wellness for your whole family.
By Philip Goritsas – CRS Director of Clinical Operations & Troy Nelson, MD – CRS Medical Director
May 16, 2019
Re: Change with Developmental Disabilities and the Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS).
Dear Parent or Legal Guardian,
DMG CRS here in Phoenix appreciates and values you as part of our family. You may have received a letter from the Department of Economic Security at the end of April that informed you about the DDD changes. We want to make this change easier for our patients.
DDD/ALTCS is changing on October 1, 2019. As a member of the CRS program, today you are insured by United Healthcare Community Plan. You will be assigned to a plan for October. All of our patients will now have a choice between two health plans:
- Mercy Care
- United Healthcare Community Plan
Remember – You can choose to keep the plan you are assigned to or you can choose another plan. You will have time between June 14th and July 15th, 2019 to change plans, during open enrollment. You will still have access to the same services at the DMG CRS Clinic. Both United Healthcare Community Plan and Mercy Care Plan contract with us to provide services.
Here is what will stay the same:
- You will still be able to be a patient at DMG CRS
- You will still have the same range of AHCCCS covered services at DMG CRS as you have now
Here is what will be different:
- You will have a choice between two health plans, instead of just one
- We will be adding new specialties and providers to expand services for our patients
- If you get services outside of our building, like surgery or primary care, please check with your insurance anddoctor’s office
DMG-CRS will continue to be open to treat patients as we have in the past. The plan you choose will not impact your ability to receive care at DMG CRS.
We are here to answer your questions. That is why we have created several ways for you to get more information about this transition:
- Speak to any DMG CRS staff member at your next appointment
- Call the DMG Transition Hotline: (602) 914-1555
- For questions about the new health plans you can contact the DDD Customer Service Unit directly at:
1-844-770-9500 ext 7 or by visiting des.az.gov/ddd-health-plans on the internet
Troy Nelson, MD
CRS Medical Director
View or Download our June Events Calendar.
An insider’s guide on making friends and merging worlds
by Tre’Shawn Rizo, Administrative Assistant at DMG CRS
In the ninth grade I was fortunate enough to meet my best friend Daniel in biology class. At the time I didn’t know he was, as he likes to put it, “different.” It was later in the day that he let me and a few others know about his autism. But that didn’t matter to me. From the moment I first noticed Daniel, I knew he was a guy I wanted to get to know. You see, earlier that day in biology our teacher used the expression “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.” I didn’t think anything of it, but Daniel quickly raised his hand and said, “Hey Mr. McWilliams, that’s physically impossible to do. So I’m confused by your statement.” Watching my teacher get red in the face and fumble over how to respond was priceless. During lunch that day I decided to find Daniel and sit next to him. And after an awkward introduction and eleven years I’m quite pleased to still call him my best friend.
Over these past eleven years of having an autistic best friend, and in honor of Autism Awareness Month, I want to share my top three tips for interacting with someone who has autism. But first, let’s start with some definitions just so we are all on the same page.
Autism: A neurological disorder characterized by repetitive behavior, difficulties communicating, and problems establishing and maintaining relationships.
Autism Awareness: A movement about spreading awareness and acceptance of people on the autism spectrum.
Neurotypical: A person who doesn’t display atypical thought patterns or behaviors.
Stimming: Self-soothing, repetitive body movements which autistic people do in response to over-stimulation or emotional stress. Common ‘stims’ are rocking back-and-forth motions, hand flapping, and arm and leg rubbing.
Now that that’s out of the way, we as neurotypicals have a way of being weird or awkward when it comes to interacting with someone who falls outside the norm. However, they are people just like we are. The only difference is they think differently. So here are three tips that will help you develop friendships with people on the spectrum.
Tip 1: Be Kind.
It should go without saying, and this applies no matter who you are talking with, but be kind and respectful. A little kindness and respect can go a long way. People with autism are often bullied, teased or talked down to. Do not assume their mental capacity is based off their condition. The two do not always go hand in hand. So do not talk down to or baby them.
Tip 2: Be Patient.
When talking, people with autism may experience an eruption of emotions and misunderstandings. Because of that, when processing social cues, they might miss something and accidentally say something that may be taken as stupid, mean, or offensive. This tends to hinder the formation and maintenance of lasting relationships. But this can be avoided by helping to bridge the gap of misunderstandings. Keep in mind that without the physical emotional cues to guide their responses like neurotypicals do, they are left with just the words. This sometimes can make an awkward experience.
To get a sense of what this is like, try closing your eyes the next time somebody is talking to you. It’ll give you an idea of how much they are missing out on. It is said that over half of all communication is nonverbal. If you’re the neurotypical in the conversation, it’s your job to make sure you are clear in your meaning. If you feel offended by what they may have said, instead of showing your offense through your facial expressions, kindly verbalize that they have offended you. You will get an apology a lot faster than making a face at them that they may not pick up on or understand.
Tip 3: Pay Attention.
Pay attention to their body movements for signs of stimming. This happens when they are experiencing an excess of emotion or sensory stimuli. It isn’t always bad, and it isn’t always good. It just is. Many people with autism have free floating anxiety even when they are happy, and stimming helps keep that under control. If you see that they are moving around more than usual, ask if they need anything. Most of the time they will tell you what they need, and the tiniest gestures go the furthest.
I know that these tips won’t make the stigma surrounding people on the spectrum go away in a day, but it’s a start. Kindness, patience and paying attention are a good start to making new friends and merging these worlds together.
View or Download our May Events Calendar.
By Lyn Hughes, BSDH, RDHAP, DMG CRS Dental Hygienist
Imagine you are a child experiencing a dental appointment for the first time. Now imagine that you are a child with special needs, unable to communicate with those around you, and experiencing this for the first time.
Caring for the dental needs of those with complex histories can prove challenging. But at DMG CRS we specialize in caring for kids with complex conditions and we strive to keep those fears at bay as much as possible.
Knowing how to treat patients with complex histories, begins with knowing how to best help the patient feel comfortable and safe in the dental environment. To say this takes practice and patience by the provider is an understatement. Depending on the physical condition and intellectual level of certain individuals, these appointments can usually be modified and tailored to help facilitate as pleasant and successful a visit as possible.
Advances in wheelchairs have afforded patients the ability to stay in the chair rather than transferring to a dental chair. Many patients have sensitivities to the light, to the feel of the gloves, are not comfortable with a provider wearing a mask, do not like the texture of the dental toothpaste and some just don’t care for someone invading their personal space. This is only a short list of many issues facing some of our patients.
With a calm caring voice many fears can be soothed.
Asking the patient or caregiver for help to avoid triggers that insight fear is key. Knowing as much as possible about any conditions that exist prior to the appointment is very helpful when treating any patient but especially those have no way to communicate. For example, a patient with visual impairment may become startled at the sound of some dental equipment if he or she is not given a warning that such noise is about to happen.
Not every appointment is going to be successful. Our patients have good days and bad days just like we do.
I recall a patient who is nonverbal and very fearful of any medical or dental facilities. He came in with his mother and all we were able to do on the first day was sit in the chair. I considered this a successful day. The next appointment, two weeks later, he sat in the chair and I looked in his mouth. This continued until I gained his trust and was able to complete his dental cleaning. It didn’t happen overnight but that wasn’t the goal. Winning his trust and making him feel safe was my goal.
We must always remember that our goal is to provide the best care possible for our patients no matter what. It is rewarding to win over the trust of a patient, and getting a hug when it’s over is the BEST!
View or Download our April Events Calendar.
View or Download our March Events Calendar.
DMG Children’s Rehabilitative Services
3141 N. 3rd Ave., Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85013
Located at Park Central Mall, between Osborn and Thomas Rds. on 3rd Ave.
Phone: (602) 914-1520
Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm