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Occupational Therapy

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Occupational therapy helps people learn how to perform the tasks of daily life, such as eating, bathing and writing, when a health problem affects their ability to function. Seattle Children's has the largest group of occupational therapists in the Pacific Northwest dedicated to working with infants, children and teens. Our clinic is a regional center for the treatment of infants through young adults who have trouble eating and swallowing. Our therapists have extensive experience evaluating children who have problems using their muscles to eat, speak, draw or write (fine motor skills). In addition, we provide splints and other positioning devices to children throughout the region who need help to keep their bodies in correct alignment.

Services We Offer

Feeding and swallowing evaluation and treatment

We evaluate young people who range in age from newborns to 21 years old on their ability to take foods and liquids safely (oral motor skills). Based on your child's unique needs, our occupational therapists make recommendations to make eating and swallowing safer and eating more successful. We provide training for children who are reluctant or refuse to eat, for those who cannot swallow due to safety concerns, and for those who are making the transition from receiving nutrition through tubes or intravenously to eating.

Training in activities of daily living

Our occupational therapists work with your child to help build skills for daily activities, such as dressing, grooming, bathing and toileting. We help children learn these skills for the first time or relearn them after injury or illness. When appropriate, we use adaptive equipment and assess the physical spaces where your child spends time (ergonomic assessment) to help your child master these life skills.

Fine motor skills evaluation and training

Our occupational therapists evaluate your child's fine motor skills and provide training to improve control of the muscles that make small movements, for example, during handwriting. Our therapists help your child work on dexterity, strength and function. When appropriate, we provide training in techniques that require the use of only one hand.

Upper body motion and strength training

When children are weak or have limitations due to injury, illness or a period of not being able to move, our occupational therapists use stretching, strengthening and conditioning techniques to help children get stronger and improve range of motion. We also use casting and splinting to maximize function.

Splinting and positioning

In some cases, splints or other equipment can help your child achieve or maintain a position that helps with function. Our occupational therapists are experienced in designing and making splints and equipment tailored to your child.

Neonatal/infant therapy

Our occupational therapists evaluate and treat the youngest patients - newborns to 1-year-olds - who are in the hospital or who visit our clinic as outpatients. We provide positioning equipment, developmental treatment, feeding therapy and training for parents.

Complete decongestive therapy (CDT)

CDT is used to manage lymphedema – swelling that occurs because of a problem in the lymph system. There are four parts to this therapy: skin care, manual lymph drainage, compression therapy and exercise. Seattle Children’s has certified lymphedema therapists to provide CDT and teach you and your child to manage lymphedema at home. Read more.