Special Programs and Capabilities

Special Programs and Capabilities

There is no one-size-fits-all therapy for children diagnosed with a learning or developmental disability. At Northwestern Medicine Pediatric Rehabilitation Services Crystal Lake, it is our goal to find the therapies that are leading their respective fields to give your child the best opportunity to grow and advance. Our success is defined by your child’s progress. Our unique approach includes:

  • Investment in technologies such as the Sensory Learning Program and Interactive Metronome
  • Providing opportunities for our therapists to attend conferences and classes to continue gaining knowledge

Our Special Programs

Learn more about our special programs and contact our therapists to see how these therapies can make a difference.

Biofeedback uses sensors to produce a visual representation of muscle contraction and relaxation. It is a great modality for improving awareness of the musculature used for bowel and bladder control – the pelvic floor. While relatively new in pediatrics, biofeedback has led to improved success for children who have difficulty with elimination, urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, constipation, encopresis and bedwetting. Our therapists will work with your child to improve coordination of the pelvic floor muscles in conjunction with bowel and/or bladder movements.

Therapists utilize a biofeedback machine, from which peri-anal sensors are placed in order to get a visual of the actions of the pelvic floor muscles with the use of computer software.

With this technology, the therapist can help the child learn how to contract and relax the pelvic floor and can teach strengthening exercises in order to accommodate proper bowel and bladder emptying. Behavioral strategies for improved success with toileting throughout the day will also be addressed. Your initial evaluation will be 60 minutes long and will include a written report for the parent and physician. Ongoing appointments are 45-60 minutes long on a weekly basis.

Fluency therapy includes individual and small group therapy sessions facilitated by experienced licensed speech language pathologists.

​Stuttering is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions (li-li-like) or abnormal stoppages (no sound) of sounds and syllables. There may also be unusual facial and body movements associated with the effort to speak.

The following are “red flags” for continued stuttering beyond childhood. You may want to consider receiving a fluency evaluation for your child if he/she:

  • Has been stuttering for more than 6 months
  • Began stuttering after age 3
  • Has a history of stuttering in the family (father, grandmother, etc.)
  • Has other speech/language deficits in addition to stuttering (substituting one sound for another in words, leaving sounds out of words, trouble following directions, difficult to understand, etc.)
  • Stutters with considerable effort/tension (i.e. ”p-p-p-please,” “ppppppplease” or if the child is unable to get a word out and appears “stuck”
  • Avoids stuttering by changing words or avoiding speaking situations.

Evaluation is completed by informal and formal assessments involving various fun speaking activities and a collection of speech sample to determine frequency and types of disfluencies.

The Sensory Learning Program is a multi-sensory approach which integrates three modalities: visual, vestibular (balance) and auditory which retrains the brain to help facilitate the reorganization of these systems.

These primary sensory systems are stimulated by lights, sounds and motion.

​It is an intensive 12 day program at the clinic, followed by 18 days of home intervention. The program consists of two- 30 minute sessions each day for the 12 days, including weekends and holidays. The repetitive sensory activation of each session builds on the session before. During the 12 days, it is advisable for the child to not participate in their regular therapy sessions, which can resume once the child has completed the 12 days. After the 12 days of dual sessions, the individual returns home with a portable light instrument to continue the program with a 20 minute session each morning and evening for the next 18 days.

​Prior to starting the Sensory Learning Program, testing is conducted to evaluate the need for the program. It involves a listening profile, visual field test, sensory profile and other fine and visual motor skills tests as needed.

​The program works by engaging the visual, vestibular and the auditory systems by sensory inputs of light, motion and sound. When there is a breakdown in communication between these three systems, developmental delays may be present. By uniting the three modalities into one intervention it allows the individuals to better integrate sensory messages.

Benefits of the Program

A variety of individuals can benefit from this program. The intervention often results in improvement in the following: speech, visual perception, understanding, social interaction, gross and fine motor coordination, ability to learn and decrease in anxiety. Research also indicates that this program enhances the child’s progress during their ongoing therapy sessions along with benefits in eye contact, attention, following directions and many more.

​Interactive metronome (IM) is a neuro-motor therapy which assists individuals in reaching greater functional gain in a short period of time.

This program uses interactive, fun exercises and an auditory guidance system to measure and improve one’s rhythm and timing. The IM program provides a structured, goal-oriented process that challenges the patient to synchronize a range of hand and foot exercises to a precise reference tone heard through headphones. During the IM program, there is motion sensing triggers, connected to the computer via cables, which relay information about the participant’s performance. By improving the fundamental ability of rhythm and timing, the individual learns to plan, sequence and process information more effectively.

This program can be used by therapists to improve cognitive deficits like attention and concentration, motor planning and sequencing, language processing and aggressive and impulsive behavior. It can also help with physical deficits like balance and gait, endurance, strength, motor skills and coordination. Those who may experience positive results from IM include individuals with: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), balance disorders, traumatic brain injury (TBI), cerebral vascular accident (CVA), developmental disorders, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, autism and other mild to moderate disabilities.

Our state-of-the-art, ADA-compliant Pediatric Aquatic Therapy Center, was designed by our certified physical therapists and is complete with private locker rooms.

Who benefits

  • Children who experience difficulties participating in weight bearing activities, cardiovascular exercise and strengthening activities on land
  • Those who have difficulties with motor planning and/or body awareness
  • Children with difficulties regulating themselves to participate in therapeutic activities


  • Warm temperatures in the pool decrease spasticity, tone, spasms and pain
  • Three-dimensional resistance increases strengthening
  • Improved cardiovascular functioning and physical conditioning
  • Strengthening of breath support and respiration facilitates speech, eating, etc.
  • Immersion in water reduces edema
  • Innate proprioceptive input from the water increases regulation and decreases sensory sensitivities
  • Improved motor planning and body awareness due to extra input to muscles and joints
  • Increased carryover of appropriate movement patterns to land
  • Safer challenges to stability without fear or consequence of falling

As part of our never ending goal of finding new ways to care for your child and provide them with the best possible care, we welcome the addition of our youth fitness center. With this new space we can provide therapies for youth sports rehab, strength training, enhanced physical therapy through the use of our kids sized fitness equipment, assistance in managing childhood obesity, family oriented fitness classes and so much more.