In my past experience as a pediatric physical therapist, I followed the traditional path, which involved patient treatments one time per week. I often thought to myself, “Am I really making a difference in this child’s life?” I then learned about an intensive therapy treatment approach that showed promise in pediatric population, and I made an effort to learn more about this program. With the encouragement and support of family and friends, I began the Richmond Hope Therapy Center in 2006, providing the Richmond area with the TheraSuit method of intensive physical therapy.
Richmond Hope Therapy Center, now part of Bon Secours Richmond Health System, is the first and only intensive therapy clinic in Virginia to care for children with cerebral palsy and other neurological and developmental disorders. There are only about 100 intensive therapy clinics in the country, and several of our patients previously traveled long distances to receive the specific type of therapy offered by Richmond Hope.
The intensive therapy model recommends children to be seen for three hours a day, five days a week for three weeks. Children often will go through several intensive therapy sessions in a year, interspersed with more conventional weekly outpatient sessions. These longer sessions allow more time for our therapists to focus on preparing the muscles for exercises, and time for repetition, which is necessary for neural pathway development in order to prior improve the child’s performance. Recent literature supports that short bursts of therapy delivered at higher frequency are more effective than traditional weekly physical therapy
Children come to Richmond Hope with aspirations others often take for granted, and we are determined to help the children attain their goals. Our mission is to provide superior quality therapy services combining traditional therapy with complementary treatment methods, embracing the needs of patients with a variety of diagnoses, and encouraging patients and families to reach their full potential.
In our experience delivering intensive therapy over the last nine years, we have witnessed transformation. Not only does the increased frequency and duration of improve strength, flexibility and balance leading to greater functionality for the children, but parents report their children have more confidence, energy, and ultimately, more independence. Each session works toward a specific goal, whether it’s waving hello, jumping for the first time or maybe even walking across the stage at graduation.
The time we spend with children and their families and remembering our mission has inspired me to look for more ways we can support families in the future. We are actively working to raise funds for an expansion project so that we can offer occupational therapy and speech therapy services, as well as more physical therapy. We currently have a yearlong waiting list for intensive therapy, and it is heart-breaking to know that we have the ability to help children but we physically can’t meet the demands in the community. I am devoted to making a difference in the Richmond area for children with special needs, and I am happy and proud to lead this change.
More information on Richmond Hope Therapy Center can be found at www.richmondhopetherapy.com.
Cindy Richards, MS, PT
Richmond Hope Therapy Center
4900 Dominion Boulevard, Suite B
Glen Allen, VA 23060
Cindy Richards received her undergraduate degree at the University of Richmond and her Master of Science from Virginia Commonwealth University. Cindy is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and lives in Richmond with her four children.