Cerebral Palsy: A Case Study at The Van Buren lSD
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The Bert Goen' s Learning Center is one of several Intermediary School District (lSD) buildings located in Lawrence, Michigan (Van Buren County). The lSD also consists of several administrative buildings, a technology center, and technology services. All of my time working for the lSD this summer was spent at the Learning Center. This is a school designed to serve "children with severe cognitive and physical impairments" between the ages of three and twenty-five (VBISD website). The combined efforts of teachers, teacher's aids, occupational therapists (OT), speech therapists, nurses, and physical therapists (PT) provide care for children with severe disabilities presenting them the opportunity to reach their full potential both physically and cognitively. The school is dramatically different during the summer session; the day is shortened by almost two hours and instead of meeting Monday through Friday the school is only open Tuesday through Thursday. Staffing is reduced from four OT's and three PT's to only one of each during the summer session. At the Learning Center I shadowed, and at times assisted, the summer PT, Frank Lima. During the school year Frank's case load consisted of approximately three classrooms containing an average of four students per classroom. However, during the summer his case load expanded. We worked in seven classrooms seeing no less than four students in each room. The students we worked with had a range of disorders including spina bifida, Hurler's Syndrome, Angelman Syndrome, and the most prevalent, cerebral palsy. Therapy sessions lasted approximately twenty minutes and were tailored to each individual student. Detailed notes left by the students' usual physical therapists determined the treatment strategies at the first few therapy sessions. Therapy sessions were designed to meet each individual student's needs. Some children were taken for bike rides using a special bike (which was more of a large tricycle) and others were taken for walks around the playground or through the school. Other commonly used therapy approaches included stretching patients, placing them a stander in order to give them time bearing their own weight, placing them on a crawler in order to encourage crawling, or participating in arm strengthening using either weights or rubber bands.