FVH prepares to unveil new sensory gym

Monday, July 10, 2017
(Photo Contributed) FVH Occupational Therapist Erin Schroeder works with a patient on the hanging swing in FVH’s current sensory gym. The swing will make the move to the hospital’s brand new sensory gym, located in an old surgical unit, when it opens in August.

LE MARS — The upgrades keep on coming at Floyd Valley Healthcare.

The hospital will soon offer a brand new, approximately 400-square-foot sensory gym, located in an old surgical unit.

“It’s a place where a lot of the kids need to go, mostly to gain self-regulation. That term just means getting their body under control,” FVH Occupational Therapist Erin Schroeder said. “A lot of the kids we see are autistic, or have sensory integration disorders, which just means their brain is wired differently than ours.”

“Typically, the equipment is a lot of the things you would see at a playground,” Schroeder continued.

The new gym will include a swing, jungle gym, climbing wall, slide, ball pit, chalkboard, and trampoline.

The new equipment cost $6,000, and FVH maintenance staff is doing the construction work.

The old gym, in use since 2009, simply wasn’t big enough to keep up with demand.

“We’ve progressively been getting flooded with pediatric clientele. There are just so many more referrals and so much more need in the area. Referrals have increased by four times,” Schroeder said. “We’ll have more space and be able to clean up and spread out more.”

Along with the gym, there will also be an attached feeding clinic.

“Any child that has a failure to thrive, or eating issues in general, a lot of time they come with feeding tubes and we work with them in the process of getting them off that,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder stressed the importance of the larger space, as well as the ability for one-on-one sessions with patients, so they can’t be distracted.

“We’ll have a one-way mirror so parents can be outside,” she said. “We’ll have a hard floor area where we can do scooter-board activities. No two kids will need the same thing, and it can be for any age. I’ve had older kids with more severe disabilities who really need the input.”

Schroeder also made sure to mention the improved space wouldn’t mean a thing if the hospital didn’t have the dedicated staff it does.

“The employees are highly compassionate and we have all these services under one roof,” Schroeder said. “We work collaboratively as a team, and that’s vital to the success and helping them to achieve goals in all areas.”

Along with Schroeder, the team includes Occupational Therapist Linda Timperley, Physical Therapist Genise Jentz, and Speech Therapists Alissa Paulsen and Jess Reuter.

The gym is expected to begin welcoming patients in August.

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