A Room for the Brain

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MIAMI (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- In the 70s, two Dutch therapists created Snoezelen, a multi-sensory stimulation room for people with developmental disabilities. Since then, these rooms have popped up all over the world. Studies have shown they help soothe and calm Alzheimer's patients, preemies, handicapped and autistic children. Now, researchers are looking at the rooms effect on children with brain injuries.

A small sound is a big step for 6-year-old Chandler . Last April, his skull was crushed when a car hit him. After four months in a coma, he's learning to speak again using a talking wall.

"We're hoping that it will encourage him to start saying words instead of sounds. The wall is totally controlled using his voice and sound," says Gillian Hotz, Ph.D., who is the co-director of the Pediatric Neurotrauma Program at University of Miami School of Medicine in Miami .

Hotz is studying the Snoezelen room's effect on severely brain-damaged kids. Studies in Israel have proven it helps people with developmental disabilities. Now, in the first clinical trial in the United States , Hotz hopes to show that it does the same for kids with brain injuries.

Chandler 's mom, Lisa Smith, says his progress has been miraculous since he started using the room. "It's so hard to hug your child and him push you away," she says. "Right after the injury, that's what I got. Now, it's so nice to have him back to me."

Three months after a car accident, Tavarious learns to move his limbs again with the help of the room.

"It's magic," Hotz says. "You'll see a child that will actually try and interact with these pieces of equipment in their own time." In just 20 minutes a day, the sights, smells and sounds of the room are expected to speed recovery and reduce the need for drugs. Hotz says, "We're eliciting stimulation through the senses."

For Lisa, it's progress even she can feel.

Hotz says the therapy should be most beneficial for children just coming out of comas. The Snoezelen room at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center is the first one to be affiliated with a university. Hotz and her staff were trained and certified by an Israeli team of doctors, who are considered the world's experts. Hotz's room will now serve as the U.S. training site for national and international therapists.

This article was published at Neurological Disorders Channel

If you would like more information, please contact:

Gillian Hotz, Ph.D.
University of Miami School of Medicine
Jackson Memorial Medical Center
(305) 585-1258


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