How did you get started in Physical Therapy?
“My decision to become a physical therapist grew out of my exposure to people with disabilities while growing up combined with my love for sports and coaching as a teenager and young adult. I grew up in Denmark and my parents both worked at an epilepsy hospital as nurses and our home was on the grounds of the hospital, which allowed me a unique perspective into the lives of the patients, who lived at the hospital.”
“After graduating from high school I spent a year in Edinburgh, Scotland where I worked as a house mother at a boarding school for children with cerebral palsy. After that experience, I knew that I wanted to work with children with cerebral palsy as a physical therapist.”
What types of patients have you seen over the years and what themes come out of that practice that patients should understand about how you work?
“My first job after graduating from PT school in Copenhagen was in a special school for children with physical disabilities. I was lucky to work alongside two wonderful, highly experienced PTs who gave me a solid background as a pediatric PT. I later worked with adults with disabilities and in one of the first early intervention home based programs in Denmark.”
“After moving to Rochester, New York I spent years working in Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education while gradually growing my Early Intervention and Preschool agency, Step by Step Developmental Services. In 2006 we opened an outpatient clinic where children of all ages were seen for PT, OT, Speech Language Therapy and feeding therapy and in 2010 we did our first intensive.”
“Working with children with neurological impairments became my passion and over time my gift.”
What made you want to develop the Key to CP program?
“Around 2002 I attended a workshop about Threshold Electrical Stimulation and Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation taught by Karen Pape, MD. This workshop became my “aha moment” because it was much more than just about muscle stimulation, it was about neuroplasticity, which was not yet a concept in mainstream medicine and rehabilitation.”
“Based on my own work with children it made sense to me that the progress that I saw in my young clients, happened because the brain can change and I happily ditched my old neurology books that had taught me that brain damage was permanent and that we should not expect much change in our patients – young or old.”
“This workshop became the start of a long friendship with Karen Pape. We spent countless hours discussing how to incorporate the new science of neuroplasticity into treatment of children and adults with Cerebral Palsy. Out of this friendship and mentorship grew the systematic, intensive approach to treatment of CP developed in my clinic in Rochester, NY, which has been gradually perfected over the past 10 years. During this time, Karen wrote her book, The Boy Who Could Run But Not Walk, in which she describes her journey to understanding neuroplasticity and thereby the potential for recovery in children and adults with CP. Some of the children and adults that are described in Karen’s book, were treated in my clinic in Rochester.”
“I have named my intensive approach Key to CP because the name embraces what I see and experience every day! Key to CP can be described as a happy marriage between commonly used therapy techniques in PT, OT and Speech and coaching principles delivered in a highly systematic way.”
What have the responses been to this concept of neuroplasticity? How has it changed lives for families, for teens, for adults with CP?
“Think about this for a moment: parents are still often told that their child’s prognosis for recovery and progress is very limited – mainstream therapy service delivery models have not changed one bit in the 37 years I have worked as a PT.”
“Neuroplasticity has not reached mainstream rehabilitation. But there is hope, because many parents and persons with CP have begun questioning the conventional systems and seek treatment that is based on the new science of neuroplasticity.”
“Being a therapist in our intensive program is the greatest gift because we see how quickly change and progress come, we see the surprise and joy when we explain and show that it means that the child or person with CP can change. HOPE is the most frequently used word that we hear as part of our intensives – hope that the child can have a different life – surprise that it is possible. Children, their families and adults leave our program filled with not only hope, but also with enthusiasm and determination to continue the program because they can clearly see that the program works and they have a concrete plan for continuing the training.”
What do you want potential clients to know about this program?
“Key to CP is a completely individualized program that is build for each person. It can be 3 days, 5 days or 10 days long with therapy 3 hours per day. The intensive is highly systematic and grounded in the goals that the child/family/adult are asked to think about prior to the intensive. It can be any combination of PT, OT and Speech based on the goals that are outlined. Everything we do, can be done back home so the program can be continued with the home team. We teach about CP so every intervention we do and recommend is clear and logical. Knowledge is power!”
“Key to CP intensives accepts clients with most types of CP: hemiplegia, diplegia, quadriplegia or movement disorders. We have had clients with all levels of involvement come successfully through our program. We require background information and short videos prior to accepting clients into our program so we can make sure that our intensive approach is suited for the client and family.”