Children’s Therapy Center
The IU Health Children’s Therapy Center holds accreditation from CARF, a designation that signifies a commitment to quality rehabilitation services. We are the only pediatric rehabilitation facility with CARF accreditation in Indiana and one of just a few in the country.
Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital's Children's Therapy Center supplies southern Indiana with the most advanced and comprehensive pediatric rehabilitation services. Excellent inpatient and outpatient physical, occupational and speech-language therapy care, as well as social services are provided for children birth through adolescence.
Assessment and intervention are available for children with a wide range of diagnoses. Intervention is based on a multi-disciplinary model to meet needs through a team approach. Treatment sessions are play-based and parents/caregivers are encouraged to actively participate as part of the team to promote carry over into home, school, and community environments.
Specialized Areas of Service
- Developmental Screenings: Available with a physician referral. Screenings are also held throughout the year in the community.
- Special Care Follow Up Clinic: A developmental clinic for babies discharged from Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital’s Special Care Nursery, or by physician referral.
- Equipment Loan: Adaptive equipment (bicycles, therapy balls, positioning equipment, augmentative/alternative communication devices, etc.) is loaned to children and families as needed.
- Physician Consultation: staff consult with local and regional physicians to coordinate excellent quality of care.
- Education Planning: Clinicians routinely consult with educational facilities to ensure continuum of care.
- Certified Lactation Counselor: On staff for lactation services with special needs infants.
- Financial and Transportation Assistance: Funds are available for financial assistance for services and equipment. Transportation to and from therapy may also be arranged.
- Parent Education Programs
- Group Activities: Therapeutic activities for social skill and language development, handwriting and sensory processing.
IU Health Children's Therapy Center
IU Health Children's Therapy Center accepts most major insurance and may be able to assist you in locating coverage. Physician referral is required. Some transportation assistance is available through Assisted Medical Transport.
4935 W. Arlington Road
Bloomington, IN 47404
812.353.3400 or 800.663.4606
Monday – Thursday; 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday; 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
IU Health Children’s Therapy Center treats orthopedic conditions through therapy and play
Julia Witesman is an imaginative and energetic four-year old, not unlike any other precocious little girl. She appears to zoom from one activity to the next, from imitating a galloping horse as she balances herself on a swing, to manipulating the controls of a play kitchen stovetop to cook some Play-Doh pancakes.
What sets this scene apart is that this particular “playroom” is located in IU Health Children's Therapy Center. While the room’s appearance is that of a playroom, in reality, it is much more than that.
The IU Health Children's Therapy Center provides southern Indiana with advanced and comprehensive pediatric rehabilitation services. The Center’s team treats a variety of orthopedic conditions in children from birth through adolescence, and provides expertise in physical, occupational and speechlanguage therapy, as well as social services.
Like the playroom she is in, Julia has much more going on beneath the surface. This determined little girl has already met and overcome incredible challenges that would overwhelm many adults. She has battled a condition called
arthrogryposis since her birth.
Arthrogryposis, from the Greek, literally means “curved or hooked joints.” When Julia’s mother, Eva, delivered her only
daughter, the infant’s hips, knees and ankle joints were so radically curved that her legs were folded against her trunk with her little feet behind her head. Her arms were also affected. To make matters worse, the complicated delivery resulted in damage to the nerves of her right shoulder and arm.
Eva and Owen (Julia’s father) had their first experience with the IU Health Children's Therapy Center when Julia was just four days old. That began a long series of weekly therapy appointments, multiple orthopedic surgeries, a nerve grafting surgery to improve the use of her right arm, and tireless work by the little girl’s parents to keep her
engaged in learning motor skills that most children just pick up automatically.
“We had recently moved to the Bloomington area when we began bringing Julia to the IU Health Children's Therapy Center,” says
Eva. “Now, four years later, we consider the staff here to be among our oldest friends in Bloomington.”
Pam Felts, OTR, an occupational therapist and supervisor at the IU Health Children’s Therapy Center, recalls her first meeting
with Julia.“When I first met her, she had no movement at all in her right arm and didn’t appear to have any feeling in it either. Her wrists were so curved that each hand was folded back against her forearm and actually pointed back up to her shoulders. In order to prevent her wrists from contracting in this position, we had to custom-make tiny little splints for her to wear at home. We could then make periodic adjustments as her positioning improved,” Pam remembers.
A few years ago, the family temporarily relocated to Utah and Finland for almost a year. In spite of the distance, her regimen of daily physical and occupational therapy continued, in part thanks to frequent communication between her parents and the Children's Therapy Center.
“In Finland, it was difficult to get Julia into therapy because we weren’t citizens,” Owen explains. “Eva would take photographs of Julia and send e-mails to Center staff. She would ask questions about whether Julia should be doing something in a certain way, or about what movements we should be practicing with her to continue her progress. They were absolutely great about keeping in communication with us and making helpful suggestions and observations.”
When the Witesman family returned to Bloomington in July 2005, they picked up right where they left off at the IU Health Children's Therapy Center. “Right now, we are working on increasing her hip extension and balance,” says Physical Therapist Jen Lykling, MS, PT. “In addition to curved joints, arthrogryposis often causes muscle weakness and underdevelopment. Inadequate hip extension has long been a problem for her, so we keep working on
making her stronger.”
The interaction between Felts, Lykling, Julia’s parents, and Julia herself is typical for the IU Health Children's Therapy Center.
The Center’s interventions are based on a multi-disciplinary model to meet needs through a team approach. Most treatment sessions are play-based and parents/caregivers are encouraged to actively participate as part of the tea to promote carry over into home, school, and community environments.
“We’re fortunate that she has always loved being active,” Eva says. “From an early age, she was determined to work
hard to attain her physical goals and that makes it easier for us to work with her on her daily therapy ‘homework’ the
The combination of Julia’s determination, the Center ’s expertise, and her parent’s dedication has so far proven to be a winning combination. In just four years, this little girl has made an amazing amount of progress toward completely overcoming the daunting physical challenges with which she was born.