HollyDELL School & Adult Programs

HollyDELL 2022 5K Walk, Run, Wheel – September 18, 2022

The Countdown is On!

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September 18, 2022

(rain or shine) 9 am – 5K Run 9:30 am – 1 Mile Walk 

Please join us to Walk, Run or Wheel through beautiful Washington Lake Park. Proceeds from the event will help fund HollyDELL programs and services for individuals with disabilities in our community.

Washington Lake Park, 626 Hurffville-Crosskeys Rd., Sewell, NJ

Choose In-Person or Virtual Participation!

Proceeds from the event will help fund HollyDELL programs and services for individuals with disabilities in our community.

Online Registration is Closed. Registration will be available at the event. (Cash or Check Only)

Print-and-Mail Registration is Closed. Registration will be available at the event. (Cash or Check Only)

Aquatic Therapy at HollyDELL Provides Fun and Freedom of Movement for Students with Disabilities

By Maureen Grossi, PT

One of the favorite activities enjoyed by many of the students and therapists at HollyDELL is our Aquatic Therapy Program. Each week on a rotating basis, we take a group of students for one-to-one therapy to the therapeutic pool at Virtua Health and Wellness Center at Washington Township.

Aquatic therapy is often confused with adaptive aquatics (teaching swimming to disabled individuals) and aquatic fitness (group classes supervised by an individual with some training in aquatics). While there are certifications at various levels that provide training for these positions, aquatic therapy is specifically administered by a state-licensed physical, occupational or speech therapist. In addition to licensure, advanced training through sanctioned continuing education courses provides best practice for aquatic therapy.

Aquatic TherapyHollyDELL’s Aquatic Therapy Program has been extremely beneficial for our students in so many ways. The act of being able to freely move–sometimes for many, their very first time–has been a sheer joy to experience. The temperature of the water is in a therapeutic range of 90-94 degrees. The warmth of the pool helps to relax muscles and increase blood flow to affected areas. The properties of the water help us as therapists use the pool as a medium to facilitate therapeutic goals, enhancing our students functional abilities, whether it is working on reaching, grasping and releasing or walking and taking steps.

As pediatric therapists, we use play as a means to gain functional skills. In the water, we use various toys and flotation devices. The pool noodles help with vertical suspension and can act as a “play horse” by straddling the noodle and working on trunk control and sitting balance. When climbing onto the large flotation mat, the students can work on weight shifting, strengthening and movement transitions, as well as balance activities. Using the dive toys helps students overcome the fear of putting their head in the water and working on breath control. The sprinkling cans, buckets and squeezable fish engage the students to work on reaching, range of motion and strengthening.

The dynamic of the group setting is amazing for peer interaction and encouragement. Some of our more timid students are willing to accept the challenge from another student to beat their time, or race to collect more fish or to stay on the mat the longest.

Our students frequently have various orthopedic surgeries and are so delighted when finally given the clearance to return to aquatic therapy.

Buoyancy can be used to progress through exercise by being assistive (move toward the water surface), supportive (move parallel to the water surface) or resistive (move opposite to the water surface). This helps to increase range of motion as well as strengthen the trunk, arm and leg muscles.

Aquatic TherapyViscosity is another physical property of water that is helpful in therapy. This provides resistance to movement through the water which allows the students to work on strengthening in a fun and supportive environment. By changing the speed of movement through the water, we can increase or decrease the resistance. When we walk in front of the student and create drag, this lessens the amount of resistance they experience.

A third property of water useful in therapy is hydrostatic pressure. This is the pressure water exerts equally at rest in all directions. It is helpful for sensory-motor development as it enhances body awareness and proprioception (the ability to sense the position of our joints). It helps with reducing edema, which many of our post-operative students experience. It also helps strengthen their respiratory and cardiac function by providing some resistance to chest expansion. Depending on which depth of water we work with the students, this can be modified to make it easier or harder.

HollyDELL’s Aquatic Therapy Program is provided by the occupational and physical therapy staff and organized by Kate Marrocco, our community outings teacher and Jen Bennett, our physical therapy aide. It takes a team effort to make this program work. Our school nurses and all the classroom staff are invaluable in helping the students participate and make this program successful!

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About the author…
Maureen GrossiMaureen Grossi, PT  graduated  from Temple University School of Allied Health in 1979 and received her Bachelors of Science in Physical Therapy. She is a state licensed physical therapist in  NJ and PA and is certified by the state of NJ as a School Physical Therapist. She has been a life-long member of the APTA and a Credentialed Clinical Instructor by the APTA. In addition to her licensure, she is an NDT certified practitioner and a member of the NDTA Association. She has be certified as an ATP by RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America. Maureen has had the pleasure of working at HollyDELL School since 1992. She has spent most of her career working in pediatrics with developmentally disabled children and young adults. Maureen lives in Washington Township, NJ with her husband and two awesome rescued cats. She has three grown children and four grand kittens.

Advanced Transfer and Mobility Device Enhances Special Needs Students’ Educational Experience

By Jodi L. Coates, PT, DPT, C/NDT 

Here at HollyDELL School, our expert staff blends warm, nurturing care with state-of-the-art technology for the benefit of special needs students. The Rifton TRAM is one exciting example of adaptive equipment and technology used daily here by our physical therapists.

The Rifton TRAM is a versatile transfer and mobility device that is used at HollyDELL to help transfer students throughout the school and to work on gross motor skills and gait training in Physical Therapy. With the TRAM, students can perform standing transfers to change seats or get into other adaptive equipment such as a stander.

Advanced Mobility DevicesStudents who are non-weight-bearing can be transferred in a comfortable, fully supported sitting position. We also perform this type of transfer utilizing the TRAM to assist students in going onto a pool chair-lift so they may enjoy participation in our Aquatic Therapy Program.

In our Physical Therapy program, we are now able to work on standing, weight shifting, taking steps and walking with some of our students who were previously unable to work on these skills due to physical limitations. The TRAM makes it much easier for our students to stand by supporting a portion of their weight. This enables them to work on weight shifting and stepping in all directions as well as higher level skills like walking and kicking. We can even help students work on balance using a balance board while supported in the TRAM.

Because the TRAM provides our students with the extra postural support they often require, we as therapists have our hands free to facilitate their movement, enabling them to participate in a variety of fun and challenging activities.

In the past, it required three physical therapists to position one of our taller students, Saniah who has cerebral palsy, in a gait trainer walker. The TRAM allows us to position her and facilitate steps independently, therefore allowing us to work on gait training on a regular basis. This has been a wonderful experience for Saniah because she loves to be up on her feet and walking. She literally laughs out loud and smiles from ear to ear while she is walking.

As physical therapists, we capitalize on the TRAM’s ability to support our students, giving us the freedom to facilitate movement. Our HollyDELL students are able to participate in–and truly enjoy–a wide variety of activities by utilizing the Rifton TRAM.


About the author, Jodi L. Coates, PT, DPT, C/NDT
Dr. Jodi L. Coates, PT, DPT, C/NDTDr. Coates graduated from the University of Delaware in 1992 with a Bachelor’s degree in biology, Hahnemann University in 1994 with her Master’s degree in physical therapy, and earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in 2011 from Neumann University. She has worked as a pediatric physical therapist for the past 22 years at HollyDELL School. She has also worked in early intervention, as well as the public school and outpatient pediatric settings. Her focus has been on working with infants, children and young adults with developmental disabilities to help them achieve their full potential. Dr. Coates has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Rutgers University since 2013. She is certified in Neurodevelopmental Treatment and is an APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor. She lives in South Jersey with her husband and three children.