Riverina media release

3 August 2020

Intensive Paediatric Therapy Program - a first for children in the Riverina

The inequities in access to paediatric allied health services in regional Australia are well known, as is the importance of early intervention to support a child’s development. The opening of Therapies for Kids, Riverina Clinic, is a welcome relief for families and their children who can now access for the first time, the Intensive Paediatric Therapy Program.

Australian and international studies overwhelmingly support the importance of early intervention and family engagement in improving the health of children as they grow. Intensive Paediatric Therapy Programs are a powerful mechanism involving two to three weeks of therapy, everyday, to accelerate a child’s progress in their functional and developmental skills. The therapy is delivered under the guidance of Paediatric Physiotherapist Debra Evans with an experienced and registered therapist plus the parent.

“This is the first-time Intensives have been available in regional NSW. We use a highly focused and engaging program across 45-60 hours to build a solid foundation. We understand neuroplasticity and the more you practice something the more the neural pathways are set, the stronger the skill becomes, the faster the skill becomes innate. Practice and intensity allow this to happen. With a skilled practitioner teaching the child and the parent, the skills go home with the parents for the child,” said Debra Evans, Paediatric Physiotherapist and Founder of Therapies for Kids.

Local father Joey Barbaro from Griffith, knows all too well the importance of early intervention, the challenges of accessing local paediatric services and the power of intensive therapy.

“We travelled from Griffith to Therapies for Kids in Sydney for a three-week intensive for my son last September. At two years of age we were not sure if he would crawl or walk. The intensive program was pivotal and Pasquale can now pull himself up and is starting to take steps by himself. The intensive therapy bought him a lot closer to his goal. Without the therapy he may not have walked for two to three more years. It is the best thing that has happened to Pasquale,” said Joey Barbaro.

With Therapies for Kids now open in Narrandera and servicing the Riverina, parents like Joey can access ongoing weekly therapy with registered therapists and do further intensives without the long commute to Sydney. Therapies for Kids bring their unique programs, specialised bespoke equipment, extensive experience and transdisciplinary therapies including speech and occupational therapy to the Riverina.

“The equipment and our structure make us unique. We use a number of creative tools to achieve the building blocks of independence, such as the Spider Cage. I have a strong philosophy of setting and meeting functional goals for children, through the clinical skills learned using the physical equipment. The combination of the playful environment, diversity of equipment and transdisciplinary specialist knowledge are a powerful combination,” said Debra Evans.

Bringing quality specialist services to the Riverina has been a long-time vision for local Paediatric Physiotherapist Clare Hoogers. Clare grew up in Narrandera and knows the inequities of services available to rural children. Prior to Therapies for Kids, families had to travel 6-7 hours to Sydney or 5 hours to Melbourne for intensive’s, and then there was little ongoing specialist support.

“It has been a community effort to get Therapies for Kids into the Riverina, after we’d been providing services to children in the area for a number of years. A local Narrandera resident is providing the premises, locals have donated bicycles and push bikes which we use in various therapies, our specialist allied health therapists are local and we have the extensive experience of Deb. I’m seeing children who had not had access to ongoing therapy now being enabled to walk. Learning to walk is a life changing goal,” said Clare Hoogers, Paediatric Physiotherapist, Therapies for Kids, Riverina Clinic.

Media Contact

Sophie Bartho, sophie@brandswell.com, mobile 0411 191 141

Interviews with Therapies for Kids Debra Evans and Clare Hoogers are available August 3, 4 and 5.

Interviews with local parent Joey Barbaro, Nichole McCarthy and Sonya Dal Broi are available.

About Therapies for Kids

  • Therapies for Kids is a trans-disciplinary practice offering paediatric Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology.
  • It is child-centred, specialising in treating ALL children, neurotypical and children with additional needs.
  • Working across different therapies allows the team to provide a holistic methodology, proven to have a greater impact by helping a child in multiple ways.
  • Therapies for Kids' use the best facilities and equipment, catering to the different needs and development stages of children.
  • Debra Evans leads Therapies for Kids with over 40 years unparalleled experience and passes this extensive knowledge onto her dedicated team of professionals.
  • Therapies for Kids provide services that are unique and family-friendly in an environment and culture where insights and information can be shared.
  • Therapies for Kids provides services through clinics in Sydney and the Riverina, and Australia via Telehealth.
  • Therapies for Kids is a registered NDIS Provider that has been accredited by the NDIS Quality & Safeguards Commission.
  • https://therapiesforkids.com.au/tfk/

Debra Evans, Therapies for Kids Founder, Executive Director and Paediatric Physiotherapist

Deb has been a practicing Paediatric Physiotherapist since 1979, working extensively with neurotypical and disabled children of all ages. She has a unique evidence-based treatment philosophy based on a transdisciplinary approach to provide optimum intervention to support a child’s development.

Deb has worked in government, community, NGO and private practice. Deb is highly regarded throughout her medical and educational peer professionals, in Australia and around the world. Deb is an Adjunct Supervisor in the Physiotherapy Faculty, Macquarie University and has lectured at the University in Rennes in France on therapy techniques for children with Cerebral Palsy. Deb’s extensive experience has provided her with a comprehensive range of treatment experiences that she shares through her leadership and mentoring of young health professionals.

Therapies for Kids was born out of Deb’s passion to provide services in a unique and family friendly environment, with a broad team on-site to promote collaboration of disciplines and sharing of information.

Clare Hoogers, Therapies for Kids Paediatric Physiotherapist, Riverina Clinic

Clare grew up in Narrandera NSW before completing a Bachelor of Physiotherapy at Charles Sturt University, Orange. She has worked with a diverse range of adults and children throughout her career before specialising in Paediatric Physiotherapy. Clare loved growing up in a rural town, however understands the limitations it has on access to specialist healthcare. Clare strives to ensure all children, where ever they grow up, have equal opportunities to develop their fine and gross motor skills and achieve their goals!

Clare passion is for enabling movement and is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to motor skill development. Through her love of sport and athletics, Clare has a unique way of finding ways to incorporate effective exercises into a game like activity, where children forget they are doing therapy.

Debra Evans, Therapies for Kids Founder, Executive Director and Paediatric Physiotherapist


Clare Hoogers, Therapies for Kids Paediatric Physiotherapist, Riverina Clinic


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