Ashland, WI—Killian is a bright, active pre-Kindergarten student who communicates with the help of a speech generating device or SGD. His mom Arianna says the SGD is life-changing for Killian. She takes him to speech therapy (ST) and occupational therapy (OT) at NorthLakes Community Clinic in Ashland.
Thanks to NorthLakes’ OT/ST Lending Closet, families like Killian’s can borrow and trial equipment free of cost. This gives them the extra convenience of doing therapy at home, which improves results and can decrease travel in some circumstances. The OT/ST Lending Closet is another important strategy that NorthLakes uses to improve access to healthcare for everyone.
Through a generous grant from the Miller-Dwan Foundation of Duluth, MN, NorthLakes Community Clinic purchased all types of essential equipment for its OT and ST programs that families can borrow from the Ashland, Iron River, and Hayward clinic locations.
Lending Closet items include weighted objects and compression equipment to promote a calming effect on the body, sleep aides for pediatric patients of all ages, specialized sound therapy music/equipment, balance equipment, body blades to strengthen upper body control, inflatable balls and wedges to enhance postural development, iPads and apps to support communication, and books and reference materials to promote social skills development, independence with daily tasks, and self-regulation.
Initially Arianna borrowed the costly SGD app and iPad from NorthLakes’ OT/ST Lending Closet while waiting four months for insurance to approve payment of the technology for Killian’s prescribed use. During this time Killian and his family gained precious weeks of practice and improvement using the borrowed equipment at home and in school.
“Before we tried the speech app, he was really frustrated,” said mom Arianna. “He has apraxia so he has trouble with words. Now with the iPad app, he points to pictures which are in all kinds of categories, and the app talks. Otherwise we couldn’t figure out so many important things, for example, if something happened in school that upset him, it would take weeks to figure out what happened. Now he can tell us. He also signs, and he’s doing well in school,” she added.
Arianna said faster access to the speech generating device from NorthLakes Lending Closet happened at the right time during Killian’s development and start of the school year. It’s made a huge difference in his family and school life.
As Speech Language Pathologist, Therapies Director Jennie Zelenak explained, “As needed, Killian uses the speech generating device to help communicate what others can’t understand from his speech. To have a voice, to learn and to build friendships, for healthy growth and development—so much depends upon speaking, being heard and understood by others.”
Of the OT/ST Lending Closet, Occupational Therapist and Chief Allied Health Officer Angie Schoeppach said, “This program allows families to more easily complete home program recommendations without added costs to the family and in turn helps patients progress faster. In addition, the program provides opportunities for families to determine if specialized equipment is the right fit for their child before spending money out of their pocket.” Schoeppach further shared, “This program is essential to being able to provide high quality care for patients who either live a long distance away or have other barriers to weekly or every other week appointments.”
NorthLakes’ Speech and Occupational Therapists believe in a whole-body approach to care and feel that development and healing goes beyond a patient’s appointment at the clinic. The wide array of Lending Closet items paired with skilled intervention have resulted in improvements of focus and attention, social skills, communication, self-regulation, self-care skills, processing speed, balance and coordination, and academic abilities.
NorthLakes’ speech and occupational therapists help children develop the skills they need to reach their highest level of independence. For more information about pediatric therapies at NorthLakes Community Clinic, call (888) 834-4551.
If you are interested in supporting the OT/ST lending closet, please consider giving an online donation here.