Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists help children develop the skills and independence to participate in daily activities or “occupations,” from dressing themselves to playing with friends and family.

UNC Children’s specially trained occupational therapists will work closely with you and other members of the care team to provide an assessment, set goals, and create and implement an individualized intervention plan to help your child reach his or her greatest potential.

You can trust your child is getting safe, effective, evidence-based treatment, because all of our therapists are certified by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. For more than 30 years, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) has looked to UNC Medical Center for expert consultation and support for the state’s public school-based occupational therapy programs.

And because we specialize in helping kids, you can count on a fun, playful and friendly atmosphere for your child’s therapy sessions.

Conditions That May Benefit From Occupational Therapy

UNC Children’s occupational therapists work with infants, children, teens, and young adults with a variety of conditions, from developmental disorders to injuries. OT may be part of your child’s care plan if s/he experiences:

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Attention disorders, including attention deficient hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Congenital anomalies – Physical conditions present at birth
  • Developmental disorders and delays
  • Feeding disorders
  • Genetic disorders
  • Hemiplegia – Weakness on one side of the body due to stroke or other brain injury
  • Neuromuscular disorders – Conditions affecting the nerves that control voluntary muscles
  • Sensory processing disorder (SPD) – Difficulty receiving and appropriately responding to things that are seen, heard, felt, tasted or smelled
  • Heart and lung conditions
  • Hemophilia – Blood disorder that can include bleeding into muscles or joints, leading to a decreased range of motion, strength, and function
  • Premature birth or low birth weight
  • Shoulder, arm and hand injuries, including broken bones and burn injuries
  • Spinal cord and brain injuries

Interventions to Promote Healthy Development

Occupational therapists are experts at assessing activities and the surrounding environment and then providing strategies or modifications to help your child be more actively involved. You and your child’s OT will work together to create individualized strategies based on the specific needs of your child and family. Services we offer include:

  • Standardized developmental testing – Screens for developmental delays
  • Environmental adaptations – Incorporates changes to your child’s physical environment, such as modifying toys to make them easier to hold or creating a small private play space for a child who is easily overwhelmed
  • Exercises to improve fine motor (small movement) skills, including handwriting
  • Feeding therapy – Integrates adaptive equipment and other techniques to help children get needed nutrition
  • Hand therapy and custom splint fabrication – Improves hand function, strength and/or positioning
  • Modified constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT) – Helps your child improve fine motor skills by practicing exercises with one hand while constraining the other hand
  • Sensory processing intervention – Uses playful interactions to improve your child’s ability to appropriately interpret and respond to sensations
  • Strategies to establish routines and improve age-appropriate self-care skills, such as dressing, bathing, grooming and using the toilet
  • Wheelchairs and adaptive equipment evaluations – Identifies devices that make daily activities easier

Ask for a Referral

You’ll need a physician’s referral for pediatric occupational therapy. Talk to your doctor or call us at 919-843-1758.

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