A community resource for pediatric stroke survivors and their families

Archive for the ‘CIMT’ Category

CIMT CAMPS (Constraint Induced Movement Therapy)

CIMT CAMP (Constraint Induced Movement Therapy for kids with Hemiplegia)

Camp Helping Hands


More info about the offerings from Intensive Therapeutics (located in New Jersey):


Summer 2014
Everyday Kids,One Community Intensive Therapeutics, Inc.973-771-1582


Dear Families and Friends,
Below you will find scheduling information about our 2 upcoming summer programs in July and August 2014:
  • Camp Helping Hands: A program for children with upper extremity hemiparesis.
  • Camp Leaps and Bounds: A program for children with autism spectrum disorder and/or sensory-motor issues.
Spots are filling up fast, so please don’t hesitate to register. Feel free to call us to get more information.
Thank you.
Scott Matthews
Executive Director

Camp Leaps and Bounds
An intensive occupational therapy program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or sensory-motor issues who exhibit limitations in:
  • Play
  • Social Skills
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • School

July 28th to August 22nd, 2014

(weekdays only)

Group 1:

Ages: 2 and 3 year olds

Time: 9 AM to 12 Noon

Cost: $2400


Group 2:

Age Groups: 4 to 6, 7 to 9 and 10 to 13

Time: Half Day/Full Day Options


Half day: $2400

Full day: $4800

Please call to discuss how we can individualize and prorate a camp schedule based on your availability. We can develop a schedule to meet your needs.
Camp Leaps and Boundsis for children with:
  • Sensory Processing Disorder
  • Auditory Processing Delays
  • Perceptual Motor problems
  • Low muscle tone
  • Motor Planning Problems
  • Visual Processing problems
  • Fine motor/gross motor issues
For more information please call:
The Presbyterian Church in Westfield
140 Mountain Avenue
Westfield, NJ  07090

About Us

Intensive Therapeutics is a 501 (c) (3), non-profit, charitable organization that provides group and individual occupational therapy services to children with special needs.

The organization was established in 2005 to address the needs of families who wanted individualized services by licensed professionals in a non-medical, community-based environment.

Camp Helping Hands

An occupational therapy program providing constraint-induced movement therapy for children with upper extremity hemiplegia.




NEW 2 Summer Sessions!

June 30th to July 25th

(Holiday: July 4th)

Weekdays Only: 9 AM to 3 PM

Fee: $4560.00



July 28th to August 22nd

Weekdays Only: 9 AM to 3 PM

 Fee: $4800.00

Extended Options Available



The cost of the program will be prorated accordingly to accommodate your child’s individualized schedule.



Presbyterian Church in Westfield

140 Mountain Avenue

Westfield, NJ  07090

For more information, please call:


or email:



click here



CIMT camp at the University of New England Community Therapy Center

in Biddeford, Maine.

Pediatric Constraint Induced Movement Therapy Intensive Camps

• July 14–18, 2014

• 2-week Camp for 6–10 year olds: August 11–22, 2014

Cost? $2,000 per week

What is Constraint Induced Therapy?

Constraint Induced (CI) Therapy is an intensive individualized program provided by occupational and physical therapists to help children use their arm and hand and learn new patterns of movement. The therapy is effective in improving:

• Quality of movement in the affected hand

• Use of affected arm and hand in activities of daily living (self-care, feeding, dressing)

• Coordination skills

• Fine motor skills

Camps are conducted by trained occupational and physical therapists from the University of New England.

• Theme-based activities

• Snacks

• Time to play with others

• Intensive and fun therapy sessions

• 9 a.m.–3 p.m. programming

• 3–4 p.m. educational and interactive sessions with parents

• Take home incentives

Who is a candidate?

• Children 3–10 years of age

• Children with limited functional use of one hand and arm

• Children with diagnoses that may include Cerebral palsy, stroke, head injury, brachial plexus injury, etc.

• Children who are able to follow directions and maintain attention for at least 15 minutes

How do I get started?

Contact Molly Walrath at mwalrath@une.edu | (207) 283-1954

Community Therapy Center

441 Main Street

Biddeford, Maine 04005

Discuss this with your pediatrician as a prescription is required for the program.




Candidates Ages 6 – 17 Now Sought For
Hand Arm Bimanual Intensive Training Research Study 

As part of an ongoing research study to determine the efficacy of hand arm bimanual intensive training (HABIT) after hemispherectomy surgery, the Center for Cerebral Palsy Research at Teacher’s College of Columbia now seeks candidates ages 6 – 17 from the northeast region of the United States only.  Click here for the announcement and further information.This study was initiated and fully-funded by The Brain Recovery Project.  Learn more about the our research programs here.

CAMP BENNETT featured in the Bay Citizen

Mom Creates Camp for Pediatric Stroke Survivors

By: Louise Rafkin

At only 5 months old, Audrey Vernick’s son Bennett, now 8, began suffering multiple seizures, sometimes more than a hundred a day.

A brain scan diagnosed him as a prenatal stroke survivor, likely having occurred in the second trimester of Vernick’s pregnancy. As early as 6 months, it was clear the left side of his body was weak and that his left arm was partially paralyzed. Vision problems soon surfaced.

Vernick, an author and former photojournalist, approached the challenge of having a special-needs son with a single question forefront in her mind: “How can I make Bennett’s life better?”

That question motivated Vernick, 44, to create a special summer camp for children who have suffered prenatal strokes. It’s a small group of children. According to the Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association, prenatal stroke occurs in about 1 in 2,800 infants (in utero or younger than 1 month), and pediatric stroke occurs in 11 in 100,000 children from 1 to 18 years old. Because the numbers are so small, a support network and services can be hard to find. Vernick spent four years researching opportunities for her son before taking steps toward changing the equation.

Most prenatal and pediatric stroke survivors suffer weakness on one side of their body; many have other serious disabilities. When Bennett was 4 and 5, Vernick took him to a New Jersey-based summer camp where the main treatment was constraint-induced movement therapy. The idea is to restrain the child’s “good” arm in a cast, forcing the brain to make better use of the “bad” arm.

With the goals of developing motor skills and core strength, removable casts go on first thing in the morning. Combining orthopedic rehabilitation, social-skills building, physical activities, games, crafts, cooking and swimming keeps the kids moving and engaged through the frustration of being casted.

At the East Coast camp, parents and children arrived from as far away as Toronto and Saudi Arabia. Vernick saw positive changes in Bennett’s abilities, plus had the added joy of seeing him among his peers. But only a few such camps existed, none locally. The closest one at the time was in Seattle, which then was offered only to Washington residents. The distance to the East Coast made attending logistically difficult. It was after the birth of her second son that the resourceful Vernick decided to start a similar camp.

In the sunny dining room of the Eureka Valley home she and Bennett share with her second son, Sammy, 6, and her husband, Russ, a software programmer, Vernick said her decision to create a camp for kids like Bennett helped her avoid feeling “out of control.”

But founding a children’s summer camp, Vernick learned, was anything but a walk in the woods. In fact, it seemed like the opposite sentiment than the one she saw on the smiling young faces typically peering out of camp brochures.

In the months leading up to the 2010 launch of “Camp Bennett,” Vernick faced innumerable legal, logistical and financial problems; staffing quandaries; insurance and safety issues; and the stresses of dealing with parents. She dove into the marathon of organization – months of late nights, exhausting fundraising and countless phone calls. At one point, a licensing issue threatened to nix the whole plan. And while Vernick was juggling details for the second year of camp, Bennett underwent brain surgery. During the hard recovery, there was uncertainty on whether he would be able to attend.

The first year, a fundraising campaign on her personal blog and on Facebook raised more than $5,000, mainly among friends and family for the six campers. With a cost per camper of $3,500, she raised enough for two scholarships.

“I expected little,” said Vernick, who was overwhelmed by the support. After posting a wish list on her blog, a friend arrived with more than $200 worth of snacks, games and art supplies.

Occupational therapist Joanie Hooper came onboard, and volunteers signed on to cover one-on-one shifts with the six participants in the three-week program.

Families from all over California signed up. The first year of camp was held in a rented clinic; last year, with the group rising to nine, California Pacific Medical Center donated space at its stroke rehabilitation clinic. With the cost rising to $4,500 per child, grants and donations fully funded five of the nine campers, and three others were given partial scholarships.

Laurie Strawn, whose daughter Julia, 9, is also a prenatal stroke survivor, was one of Vernick’s early supporters.

“Audrey proved to us that if what you need for your kid doesn’t exist, it’s possible to create it,” she said, noting that the work it took to start Camp Bennett was beyond the scope of most people’s abilities – let alone the parent of two children, one with special needs.

“The best thing was that Julia was among a community of kids challenged in similar ways,” Strawn said. “They supported each other through the therapy with remarkable compassion.”

“As a parent, my job is to give Bennett stepping stones to a healthy life,” Vernick explained.

Vernick is taking a leave from organizing the camp this summer, but Hooper is planning a camp session in late July, possibly at Kidspace in San Francisco.

Despite her much-needed break, Vernick’s thoughts are still on a future for her son and his fellow campers. “I don’t care what the camp is called,” she said. “I just want this therapy available to kids that need it.”

Plus, the campers bonded and established friendships. “Being with the other kids helps them feel OK in the world,” Vernick said. “These kids are just not going to meet anyone at school or in their neighborhood like themselves.”


Name: Audrey Vernick
Age: 44
Residence: San Francisco, Eureka Valley
Making a difference: Launched a therapeutic summer camp for children who suffered childhood strokes
In their own words: You want to do everything for your child whether or not they have special needs. If there is a need, it feels meaningful to know you can make it happen.



Camp Bennett NEWS for 2012

Hi Everyone,

Thanks to all of you for your interest in Camp Bennett! Unfortunately, I will not be running the Camp this year, but our amazing Occupational Therapist, Joanie Hooper, is running two CIMT camps of her own! You can contact her to get more information. I highly recommend her – she is a gifted and dedicated practitioner who totally ‘gets’ hemiplegia. Flyers for her camps are below.

Thanks, and best of luck to all of you.

Camp Bennett featured in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle 7/24/11



Here is a message from Isaiah’s mom:

Isaiah blowing bubbles during Camp Bennett 2010

“Last July 2010, Isaiah participated in the first ever Camp Bennett. Prior to the camp, Isaiah’s OT from CCS initiated Isaiah’s first experience with restraint therapy by collaborating with Kaiser. Isaiah became Kaiser’s pioneer child for a trial constraint therapy program. Isaiah wore a removable bi-valve cast for at least 10 hrs per day for about 2 months. This particular trial was difficult because Isaiah was not placed in a group setting. He was mainly at home with me (mom) trying to go about his normal routine with his dominant hand casted off. OT and PT sessions were easier than the home-based therapy setting, but he struggled everyday. Isaiah was progressing, but he was unhappy.”

“Camp Bennett was a totally new and surprising challenge for Isaiah. At camp, he was surrounded by kids that looked like him, ran like him, and had casts like him. The ‘peer pressure’ was amazing for Isaiah. The group/peer setting did wonders for Isaiah’s confidence. He was able to tolerate the cast for the entirety of the camp sessions, without throwing a fit. I believe that it is much easier for Isaiah to participate in constraint therapy if he is able to play with children like him versus being the only child in a medical-therapy setting.”


An intensive therapy and social skills summer camp

providing constraint-induced movement therapy

for hemiplegic children ages 3-8

Maximum 6 children per group/12 kids total

with a 1:1 adult:child ratio throughout the day

July 11th to July 29th, 2011

Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 3 PM

CPMC’s Davies Campus
Castro and Duboce Streets
San Francisco, CA 94114

FEE: $4,500* for the three weeks, including the cast fee.
* Scholarships and sliding scale will be available for eligible families.

Please contact me with any questions: audvern@gmail.com, 415-377-1132

QUOTES ABOUT AUDREY VERNICK, Founder and Director of Camp Bennett



“I am an OT who was fortunate to be able to volunteer at Camp Bennett. I was inspired and touched by the children and certainly Audrey’s dedication to make Camp Bennett happen! Audrey, the world is a better place because of the dedication and hard work of people like you – persevere!”

–Paulette Schafir, OTR/L




“Not only is Audrey is a truly loving, dedicated, creative, and fun mom; but she puts the same love, dedication, and hard work into her continuing advocacy, family support, and in starting amazing programs like Camp Bennett for families of and kids living with hemiplegia. She was a pleasure to work with and is an inspiration to many and I feel she deserves this recognition whole-heartedly.”
— Kristy Atchison, OTR/L Camp Bennett 2010




“Audrey is the perfect example of a demanding parent, a dedicated parent, a hard-working parent. She asks all the right questions, balances the intellectual and the practical when it comes to the care of her child. She makes doctors want to strive to do their very best every moment of the day.”

— Audrey Foster-Barber, MD, UCSF Child Neurology




“Thank you so much for creating Camp Bennett. The experience was life changing for all of us and it gives us so much hope for the future. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

— Kim, Dennis & Isaiah, Camp Bennett 2010 Camper




“Audrey told me she was going to create a camp here in the Bay Area for children with hemiplegia. I didn’t doubt her for an instant, but I am amazed at how fast she accomplished so much. My daughter, Julia, loved Camp Bennett. She made great strides physically, and more importantly, she had a terrific time in a play-based camp where all of the kids understood each other’s struggles, helped each other, and celebrated their achievements together. Thank you so much, Audrey. You are wonderful!”
— Laurie Strawn, parent to Julia, Camp Bennett 2010 Camper




“I am very excited for Audrey, a well deserved honor!  Audrey approached me asking for help, input etc.  I immediately answered her call and contacted Amy Smith, OTR and Donna Uzoigwe, SLP. Amy and I had worked the summer prior at Adam’s Camp in Colorado, and we were very enthusiastic about  Audrey’s venture, and thought that something similar was needed in the Bay Area. It just so happened that the founders (parents) Bob and Karel Horney, of Adam’s Camp were in SF and they were able to meet. They are exciting and inspirational and I’m sure they fueled Audrey’s fire.

“Audrey was determined to get the camp going this summer and literally put it all together in 3 months! Nothing was going to stop her! It has been my experience working with children and adults with special needs for almost 40 years, that the most innovative, useful, fulfilling and exciting programs, are one’s which are created and conceived by the consumer themselves; parents, relatives, or close friends.  Audrey proved that to be true when she put together Camp Bennett this summer. I hope that this is just the start for Camp Bennett and that Audrey continues to grow the camp for not only her son, but for the many children whom are waiting to participate.”

— Elaine Westlake, MA, PT, Kids Development Studio, San Francisco




“Thank you Audrey for the great learning experience. I will carry it with me throughout my physical therapy studies.”

–Lindsey Hatcher, PT student and volunteer, Camp Bennett 2010




“I am Bennett’s mobility teacher and have known Audrey for several years now. If I have two words to describe Audrey, I would say she is dedicated and passionate. When Audrey delves into something she truly is passionate about, she doesn’t hesitate to just jump into the deep end. She digs deep into her heart and works endlessly on whatever she sets her sights on. She is very meticulous and thorough (in a good way, of course) in addressing all of Bennett’s needs and in assuring that the entire team is aware of what is happening in Bennett’s life so that we can better serve him. Bennett is truly fortunate to have Audrey advocating for his needs.”

— Joanne Woo, SFUSD Orientation & Mobility specialist




“Audrey is an amazing advocate. She is passionate about inclusion and working collaboratively with her school community to create an environment where all children feel accepted and celebrated. Last year Audrey helped fundraise for the AXIS dance company. She wanted to make sure our entire community had an opportunity to witness their powerful message and dancing. Audrey has been supportive to new inclusion parents at the school. She has been helpful and insightful. We are so happy that she is part of the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy Community.”
— Christina Velasco, Principal, Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy




“Audrey is a great addition to our community! She not only is an active parent in our community, but she is also an amazing advocate and is my point person to speak to incoming parents about what our inclusion program at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy means to ALL children at our school. She helps me plan events around inclusion and has brought us amazing assemblies that is enjoyed by the staff, children and families. Thank you to Audrey for all of her hard work and dedication!”

— Shawn Maceira, Parent Liaison, Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy




“From one parent to another, thank you for being such an inspiration in starting Camp Bennett, and thanks for being a great support and friend at Tuesday Night Parent Group.”

–Eileen Boussina




“I should have known that the passionate, curious woman I fell in love with 12 years ago would someday turn her attention to another more compelling person.  Fortunately, I too love our son Bennett.  I always knew Audrey would be a terrific supportive mother.  What I wasn’t anticipating was for her to affect such profound changes in the lives of complete strangers.  Having witnessed Camp Bennett and how Audrey has touched so many lives, I will be less surprised next time.

“When we met, I was immediately drawn by Audrey’s curiosity.  She asks simple frank questions that relay her underlying caring as well as interest.  The person being questioned really wants to answer, even when the questions are about complicated, personal and potentially embarrassing details.  I call them “Audrey questions”.  This desire for understanding served her well as a journalist, captured her husband’s heart, and made her the ideal parent for Bennett.

“When Bennett was 5 months old, it was clear there was a medical problem and Audrey set about to find and fix it. Briefly, Bennett had a stroke in-utero due to a malformed middle cerebral artery, preventing much of his brain’s right hemisphere from developing.  To treat his seizures and deal with the immediate medical problem, he would have two brain surgeries, many MRIs, EKGs, blood tests, and examinations. With a lot of luck and Audrey driving his care, the seizures were successfully treated and we could focus on treating Bennett’s other symptoms.

“With hemiplegic cerebral palsy, Bennett has difficulty using his left arm, hand and leg.  His hearing and vision are also affected, particularly on the left.  Between the brain injury and spending so much time with medical staff instead of other kids, his ability to relate with his peers was also stunted.  Again, Audrey takes the lead.
“Audrey became his medical advocate as well as his mom. She learned as much as she could about epilepsy, strokes, stroke recovery, raising special needs kids, integrative play as well as parenting in general.  Working with doctors, nurses, therapists, advocacy groups, other parents, books, journals, the internet and anyone else who had knowledge she quickly became the foremost expert on Bennett’s condition and treatment.

“One of the more successful treatments Audrey found is the Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) practiced by Camp Helping Hands in NJ.  The combination of CIMT done intensively daily for several weeks in a summer camp-like atmosphere proved to be a terrific experience for Bennett and inspiring for Audrey.  Working closely with other kids having similar issues, Bennett not only made progress physically, but socially too.  All the kids had similar struggles, they understood each other in ways we can only imagine.  With that ability to understand also came the ability to motivate and inspire, creating a virtuous cycle of progress, accomplishment and bonding.

“Unfortunately, Camp Helping Hands is 3000 miles away from home, putting a great deal of stress on the whole family to participate in such a great program.  Understanding that we were very fortunate to be able to make the journey and commitment for a month every year, Audrey decided she could do more.  Hence Camp Bennett.
“Beginning in late 2009, Audrey set upon creating a local CIMT camp where kids could gather for intensive therapy in a very fun and uniquely supportive atmosphere.  With these two goals, she immersed herself in:

  • Recruiting the right therapists and volunteers
  • Finding a suitable location
  • Planning an engaging three week curriculum
    • a different theme every day
    • activities, crafts and games for the kids
    • special classes (e.g. music classes, dance and yoga)
    • talks for parents on IEPs and alternative therapies
  • Collecting and organizing all the supplies and snacks

“Not content to simply create and run the camp, she also wanted to make sure it was available to all who might need it, soliciting donations which provided scholarships to some of the campers.

“Audrey would have been deemed successful if she simply had met her goals of providing good therapy where everyone had fun and learned how to interact a little better.  So what words can we use to describe meeting these goals and giving at least one child a life changing experience.  Maybe if we understand her experience better, we’ll have the right words.

“One camper had a stroke at the age of 5.  She had been a typical kid, running, playing, going to school, but while swimming one day, she lost control of her left side.  Struggling in the water, they rescued her, but treated the problem as a drowning, not realizing for a day that there was a much bigger problem.  For the next 1/2 a year, she was in and out of the hospital, having major procedures done, and struggling to recover.  Though she was able to eventually return to school, she still wasn’t able to use her left arm.

“She didn’t feel normal anymore, and couldn’t explain to the other kids what she went through.  Nor could they really understand what was wrong, making her feel isolated at a time when she was most vulnerable.

“We’ve all been depressed and confused at some point, but something helps us get through it.  For her, it was Camp Bennett.  Everyday, she was surrounded by people who understood what she was going through and wanted to help her, starting with Bennett himself.  As the camp’s ambassador as well as namesake, he introduced himself as soon as they arrived and helped them find their cubby and get situated.  With a steady flow of therapists and volunteers she also ran through the obstacle course, dressed, drew, ate and played with a cast on the arm that worked well.

“Gradually, it became normal to have had a stroke. Continually, everyone learned together.  Steadily, bonds were formed and physical progress was made.  Eventually, she created a new normal which she can change over time.

“Successful, yes.  How about inspiring, generous, fantastic, phenomenal, life-changing?

“From the day I met Audrey 12 years ago, I knew she was a special person.  Yet, I’m still amazed by the challenges she endeavors to overcome and how much she achieves in the process.  Camp Bennett is her latest example of how her curiosity and passion drives her to create magnificent things for others.”

— Russ Vernick