Mary Bridge Good Samaritan Children’s Therapy Unit (CTU) is one of the nation’s leading neurodevelopmental centers where children receive physical and occupational therapies to improve mobility and other skills. It’s also the location of a hidden gem: the Mary Bridge Children’s Therapy Services (MBCTS) Orthotics and Prosthetics Team.
An orthotic is a device such as a brace or splint that supports, immobilizes and or treats joints, muscles, and parts of the skeleton. The team works with Mary Bridge Children’s patients and therapists to create orthotics and prosthetics that provide relief and assistance for daily activities, like getting dressed, that may be difficult for some children with special needs. From night boots to prosthetics, they can create a variety of items that — along with therapies — help MBCTS patients continue to improve their mobility.
“The work we do here makes our kids’ lives better,” Orthotic Technician, Amy Coe says. “They have more function and the ability to do more things in the community and at school and with their friends because of the orthotics and prosthetics that we make here.”
The team is the only one of its kind at MultiCare and one of only a handful of programs that meets patients orthotic and prosthetic needs in one location with direct input from their care team.
“We all strive here to make the highest quality products that we can so that the kids and the parents feel like they’re getting something really special and just for them,” Orthotic and Prosthetic Technician, Nate Sutherland says. “That way it’s exciting for them when they get it. The important thing is that they like it, that they’re impressed with how it turned out and, of course, that it helps the child.”
Each product is custom-made for the patient including casting/measurement, fabrication and fitting as well as the ribbon that the child uses to decorate the piece. From solid colors to superheroes, each child receives a piece that reflects their own unique personality.
“Community donations really allow us to be top-notch,” Orthotics Technician Jessica Fox says. “And, work with materials that are most effective and have the opportunity to make the best quality orthoses for the kids. And, that is really satisfying.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the team helped in any way they could. They took temperatures at the front door and they cut comfort strips for hospital employees out of the neoprene they had on hand. Most importantly, they continued to meet the needs of families in whatever way they could — including mailing orthotics and meeting families in the parking lot to avoid unnecessary exposure.
As for the importance of the work, it’s immeasurable.
“When I started working here almost 24 years ago, I made some orthotics for a kiddo. I got the feedback from the fitting that the mom was in tears because it was the first time their child had taken steps,” Amy shares. “So, things like that make our job really worth it.”