iPad, Steamroller are first items purchased.

    Many children and adults recently enjoyed RiverView Health’s Autism Awareness Event in the RiverView Rehab Department, Crookston, in recognition of April as Autism Awareness Month. Children with autism and other disabilities had the chance to have some fun and use some of the therapeutic toys and tools RiverView’s Rehab Departments in both Crookston and East Grand Forks use for pediatric therapy.

    Those RiverView Rehab tools and services are made possible by people like Cindy and Mike O’Keefe, Grand Forks. The O’Keefes recently set up the McDonald’s Children’s Therapy Fund through RiverView Health’s Foundation. This new fund is intended to secure the most critical pediatric physical and occupational therapy needs of the RiverView Clinics in both East Grand Forks and Crookston.

Family connection
    The O’Keefes are the owners of McDonald’s restaurants near Columbia Mall in Grand Forks, in East Grand Forks and Crookston.

    Not only do the O’Keefes have a tie to local children through their restaurants, but their daughter, Jennalee, is a licensed occupational therapist who works in South Carolina. She works in a Trauma One Hospital that has a Heart Hospital as well as a Children’s Hospital. She has been oriented in each of those areas, and also does some in-home occupational therapy with three young children with Down Syndrome. Cindy said that through their many conversations with Jennalee, they have learned how even some of the most simple tools can have a big impact on someone’s life. Jennalee also graduated from UND with Tina Safranski, one of  RiverView’s occupational therapists.

    “When Kent approached us about possibly setting up this fund through the Foundation, we felt an immediate connection,’’ said Cindy of their initial visit with RiverView Foundation Director Kent Bruun. “ We knew the benefits that some of the equipment in need would provide, and are excited to be able to provide specialists with tools and equipment that will allow them to help children improve their quality of life.’’

Pediatric equipment

    The first projects made possible through this fund are an iPad for pediatric occupational services and a Steamroller.

    One of the main benefits of the iPad is that it is affordable and portable to be used in a variety of settings with a wide range of age groups.  The touchscreen provides an opportunity to use this tool for educational and developmental purposes. This device is not only used as a learning tool but is also used as a motivator for patients to complete other tasks as well. Children need consistency, structure, and routine; therefore, the iPad is easy to understand and they are assured that everything is located in front of them, reported Safranski.

    Many of the children seen for treatment at the East Grand Forks and Crookston Rehab Department sites are involved in specific treatment to help them organize their responses to sensory input.  One of the primary treatment approaches involves the use of deep pressure input with movement, teamed with heavy work activities that the children enjoy.  The Steamroller is a piece of equipment that is used frequently in therapy. Children love the deep pressure they get on both the front and back of their bodies as they pull themselves through the rollers The Steamroller is also used to help improve a child’s motor planning skills, shoulder stability, and body awareness as they use effort to pull themselves through.

    “The therapeutic use of this equipment and the accompanying activities will assist children with delayed motor skills, delayed speech and language development, and/or difficulty organizing their responses to sensory input,’’ said Safranski. “We cannot thank the O’Keefes enough for helping RiverView secure the appropriate equipment for our pediatric rehab programs. This equipment will make a huge difference in the lives of many children.’’

    “Cindy and Mike understand how critically important child development is in shaping the lives of children,’’ continued Bruun. “Their stakeholder role in supporting pediatric services is a powerful example of how much they genuinely care.”

    For more information on RiverView Rehab services, call 281-9462 in Crookston or 218 773-1390 in East Grand Forks.