You never want to deal with the unfortunate issue of having an infant child who is suffering from a developmental issue. Whether this is the result of a birth defect or a birth injury, you may find a child needs more than just physical therapy to overcome the worst of the potential developmental issues.
What does this mean? While physical therapy is designed to focus specifically on muscle, bone, or limb damage and return the full function of limbs to help a child live with as little physical constraint as possible, occupational therapy looks at sensory processing, cognitive skills, and fine motor skills – issues that aren’t quite so easily tackled in general physical therapy.
What Exactly Is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy often goes hand in hand with physical therapy for infants in order to help them to overcome delays in fine motor skills. This can range from simple actions, like helping them bring their hands together and learning to use small finger muscles via basic exercises, to bringing in special stimulating toys that challenge them in just the right way to start seeing results.
Occupational therapy often proves necessary when the problems in development seem to stem from more than just one or two major muscle groups having a rough time. Signs include delayed reactions to processing what their senses show them; struggling with hitting normal developmental timelines not just by a few weeks, but by months or years; or not showing any progress beyond a certain point at all.
All of these issues could mean specialty therapy is needed to set everything right. In any legal action that is taking place, these types of expenses need to be figured into the total compensatory amount.
Why Would an Infant or Toddler Need Occupational Therapy?
Generally speaking, there are certain “progress points” that you expect to see as a child develops. A certain age range where they begin to crawl, begin to make sounds, can speak their first words, etc. All children develop at different rates, so being off by a few weeks or even a month isn’t a major concern. However, an occupational therapist may need to come into the picture when months are going by without seeing the growth you expect, or if the behavior of the child looks increasingly odd or perhaps caused by an injury of some type.
A good occupational therapist will not only help your child to develop with guided exercises, games, and training, but he or she will look for possible reasons behind the delayed development and see if there might be an injury or diagnosis that had been missed up to this point.
The Legal Ramifications
The legal ramifications can vary based on what you focus on. If the slow development is due to an injury that occurred because of malpractice, then that definitely comes into play with any medical malpractice lawsuit. On the other hand, if the development is due to a birth defect, then it won’t be so big an issue.
There are some cases where an occupational therapist ends up in a lawsuit, but these are few and far between, and it would take some seriously bad judgement that results in actual harm to a child during rehabilitation for those cases to go anywhere.
While many parents might not be aware of the different types of therapy available and often necessary for helping their children, your attorney will be. When going into any case or looking at any settlement amount, it’s important for your attorney to understand the cost of occupational therapy and to take that into consideration when figuring out whether to take a or not.