How Loud is Too Loud??

How Loud is Too Loud??

Since May is better speech and hearing month I thought it would be a good idea to look at just how loud some sounds are and how they can affect your child’s hearing. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) launched a campaign called “Listen to your buds. “ The campaign is designed to educate children and parents about safe listening habits.

As electronic devices become more popular among children of all ages, so does noise induced hearing loss. In 2014 ASHA estimated that 75% of kids ages 8 and under have access to a smart mobile device at home as compared to 52% in 2011. They have also estimated that 1 in 6 adolescents suffer from high frequency hearing loss which is typically noise related and very preventable. AHSA outlines 3 simple to steps to help make listening safe. First, keep the volume down to 50% of the max level. Second, limit listening time by giving you or your child quiet breaks. Lastly, talk to your kids about safe listening habits.

So how loud is too loud? According to OSHA, you can safely listen to noise or music at 85 decibels for 8 hours at a time. But once you’ve gone above 85 decibels then the length of time you can be exposed to noise without harming your hearing decreases rapidly. The rule of thumb is that for every 5 decibels the noise level increases above 85 the safe listening time decreases by half. In 2010 NBC news conducted an interview with an audiologist. They stated that parents can monitor their child’s music with a couple of easy tips. If you are having difficulty hearing someone who is talking from about an arm’s length away then chances are your volume is too high and above 85 decibels.  Also if you find yourself raising your voice to have a conversation, the level is probably higher than 85 decibels.

For more information on the Listen to Your Buds program click here Here is the link to the 2010 article from NBC news


-Matthew D’Antonio, PT, DPT

Pediatric Physical Therapist

What is a Sensory-Friendly Film?!

What is a Sensory-Friendly Film?!

 Lowcountry Therapy Center is collaborating with the Cinemark Bluffton movie theater to create a sensory-friendly movie screening of Finding Dory.  You might be wondering…

What is a sensory-friendly film??

A sensory-friendly movie screening means:

  • the lights are dimmed, but not off,
  • the volume is turned down, and
  • children have the freedom to move around the theater.

This means that children with sound sensitivities are not overwhelmed by the volume of the movie, and that children that are fearful of the dark will be more comfortable.  Children that have difficulty sitting still and benefit from frequent breaks, or even movement while watching, are encouraged to give their bodies what they need!  This event provides an environment that is accepting of children with special needs, and a place where the child, their family, and their friends can enjoy time together.  Last, this is a great opportunity to network with other families!  Being able to relax and enjoy quality family time without worrying if someone will complain or be disturbed by noise or movement is a wonderful experience! 

This event will take place on Saturday, June 25th at 10:00am.  Tickets can be purchased at Lowcountry Therapy Center’s Bluffton or Port Royal locations.  The cost is $10 per person and includes a ticket voucher, popcorn, drink, and snack.  Cash or Check is accepted at this time only.  For questions, please call (843) 815-6999.

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month!

Each May, Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) provides an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and the role of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in providing life-altering treatment.  At Lowcountry Therapy Center, we love and value our SLP’s for all the work they do!  One question they say is frequently asked is:

What is the difference between speech and language?

Speech is the verbal means of communicating. Speech consists of the following:

  • Articulation - how speech sounds are made (e.g., children must learn how to produce the "r" sound in order to say "rabbit" instead of "wabbit").
  • Voice - use of the vocal folds and breathing to produce sound (e.g., the voice can be abused from overuse or misuse and can lead to hoarseness or loss of voice).
  • Fluency - the rhythm of speech (e.g., hesitations or stuttering can affect fluency).

Language is made up of socially shared rules that include the following:

  • What words mean (e.g., "star" can refer to a bright object in the night sky or a celebrity)
  • How to make new words (e.g., friend, friendly, unfriendly)
  • How to put words together (e.g., "Peg walked to the new store" rather than "Peg walk store new")
  • What word combinations are best in what situations ("Would you mind moving your foot?" could quickly change to "Get off my foot, please!" if the first request did not produce results)

When a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice, then he or she has a speech disorder.  When a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely (expressive language), then he or she has a language disorder.

Language and speech disorders can exist together or by themselves. The problem can be mild or severe. In any case, a comprehensive evaluation by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) is the first step to improving language and speech problems.

To learn more about typical speech and language development and the importance of early detection and treatment, visit the following link:

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

What is Plagiocephaly and How Can Physical Therapy Help?

Plagiocephaly is a condition when a flattened spot develops on the back or side of a baby’s head. This is caused by uneven pressures on the back of the head usually due to how the baby is lying. Plagiocephaly can lead to a misshapen head and in severe cases cause deformities in the facial bones around the cheeks and eyes.

In 2013 the American Academy of Pediatrics released a study to estimate the incidence of positional plagiocephaly in infants 7 to 12 weeks old. They looked at 440 infants who attended the 2 month well checkup. They found 205 infants to have some form of plagiocephaly. The instance of plagiocephaly is estimated to be 46.6% of infants. More on this study can be found at

Since this study was completed in one specific area more studies need to be completed to get a better representation of the country as a whole. However, that is a very high statistic in just a single area. Plagiocephaly is something that can easily be prevented in infants. One major cause of plagiocephaly is due to not enough tummy time. While awake, babies can spend half of their awake time on their belly. This is a great position for the child to play in and helps keep pressure off the back of the head. Limiting the time spent in containers (car seats, strollers, etc.) is another way to help reduce the risk of plagiocephaly. Too much container time can lead to plagiocephaly and also developmental delays according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).  Read more about what baby container syndrome is and the impact it has on your child’s development here at

The good news is that plagiocephaly can be easily treated through either a positioning program or through the use of an orthotic helmet. If you are worried that your child might have plagiocephaly, contact your pediatrician or bring them in to us at Lowcountry Therapy Center for a free screening.


-Matthew D’Antonio, PT, DPT

Pediatric Physical Therapist


Screen free week begins next week (May 2nd – May 8th). Screen free week is when families across the world reduce and limit the amount of time that children spend looking at screens such as TVs, computers, phones, tablets, etc. Devices are still permitted for school and work. The amount of time spent on digital devices has increased tremendously in the recent years. Research has shown that excessive screen time is linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, and attention problems.

There has been a lot of recent research that has shown that too much screen time in children can have negative effects. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stated in 2011 that both foreground and background media have potentially negative effects and no known positive effects for children younger than 2 years old. They found that children under 2 who watch heavy amounts of television and videos have been found to have a significantly higher chance of having a language delay. They have also found that using television as part of the bedtime routine can be detrimental to a child’s sleep. Although parents perceive a televised program to be a calming sleep aid, some programs actually increase bedtime resistance, delay the onset of sleep, cause anxiety about falling asleep, and shorten sleep duration.

The use of screens and the effect they have on children is something that is constantly being researched. Screen free week is a way to raise awareness about the effects screens have on kids, and a way to encourage kids to have a more active lifestyle. Here is the link to the screen free website ( This website will help explain more about what screen free week is, the dangers of increased screen time, and some fun activities that kids can do. This link is for the article from the AAP that is mentioned above (

Don’t forget to ask your therapist how you can sign up for screen free week and win some fun prizes!!!

-Matthew D’Antonio, PT, DPT

Pediatric Physical Therapist

New Faces at LTC!!!

Lowcountry Therapy Center is growing, so we thought we would take a moment to introduce a few new faces you may notice around the clinic!

Eleanor Mockler, or “Ellie,” is a new OTR/L at the Bluffton clinic.  She attended Boston University: Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.  Some areas she is passionate about include Autism, sensory processing, and the Handwriting Without Tears program.  

Julianne Escoe is a COTA/L at the Bluffton clinic.  Julianne graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Science. She then moved to Birmingham, AL where she received her Associates in Applied Science degree as an Occupational Therapy Assistant from Brown Mackie College. Julianne has clinical experience in Early Intervention and geriatric Mental Health. She is well versed in Sensory Integration Theory and believes strongly in parent and caregiver involvement in treatment. Julianne recently relocated to Bluffton, SC to join the Lowcountry Therapy Team. In her free time she enjoys taking naps, going to the beach with her fiancé, and wedding planning.

Haleigh Dozier is a COTA/L at the Port Royal clinic.  She received her Associates of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant from Darton State College.  She was born and raised in Warner Robins, GA but moved to South Carolina to be closer to family.  She says “I am very passionate about children with autism and sensory integration.”

Marie Hooper is an Occupational Therapy student that will be at LTC’s Port Royal clinic for the next 3 months.  She is a Beaufort local, practically a native, after living here for 20 years.  She has been a Physical Therapist Assistant for 9 years with experience in multiple settings including outpatient pediatrics and adults, and inpatient hospital settings.  She has been married for 15 years and has 4 beautiful daughters between the ages of 8 and 13.  She says, “I decided many years ago I wanted to be an Occupational Therapist and finally had the opportunity to return to school recently to pursue that dream. I am very excited about the opportunity to learn from the staff here at Lowcountry Therapy Center and working with the families and children they serve.”

Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L

Benefits of OT Part I

Occupational therapy can be very beneficial for children, and can help with a variety of different skills such as attention span, sensory processing, activities of daily living, fine motor and gross motor skills, visual perceptual skills, handwriting, and much more. So when is it appropriate for my child to see an occupational therapist? As a physical therapist, there are a few things I look for before requesting an occupational therapy evaluation.

Following directions and attending to a task are two big problems that cause me to request an occupational therapy evaluation. These are the kids that are constantly running around the gym and are having problems focusing to complete a 1 step direction. I also see if they can complete activities of daily living such as putting their socks and shoes on. Kids should be able to independently take off their socks and shoes at the age of 2, and be able to independently put them back on between the ages of 3-4. Vision is another area of a child that I check to see if occupational therapy is appropriate. Vision can throw off how a child perceives depth and with tracking objects. For example, if I throw a ball to the child and they are unable to follow it with their eyes this tells me that there may be a visual problem.

These are just a few things that I look at during my treatment sessions or during my initial evaluation, and a few things that you can assess at home. Lowcountry Therapy Center offers FREE screenings for all of our disciplines (OT, PT, ST). If you are unsure if OT can help your child give us a call at (843)-815-6999 and schedule a free screening.

Here is more information about what occupational therapy is, how it relates to children, and what they can do to help.

Benefits of OT Part II

As we continue to celebrate Occupational Therapy Month, I want to share some information about how multiple disciplines work together at Lowcountry Therapy Center. Specifically, why do speech therapists sometimes make referrals for occupational therapy?  The human brain is a highly complex system, with many different sub-systems working together to help us function efficiently. For example, our speech and language system also depends on our attention system, our memory system, our visual system, and our auditory system (to name a few!). Weaknesses in one system are likely to impact other systems, much like a domino effect. Therefore, a “team approach” to therapy is often warranted to help children achieve their greatest potential. It is not uncommon for a child that receives speech therapy to be referred for an occupational therapy evaluation. Occupational therapy addresses many aspects of daily life that can, in turn, affect communication.

Occupational therapy can impact speech and language by improving your child’s…

  • Attention and regulation, which is a foundation for social engagement and use of language.  In order to learn, your child must be able to focus, attend and engage.
  • Postural stability, which is critical for speech production. In order for your child to successfully make various speech sounds, they must have jaw stability. Jaw stability is dependent on head and trunk control, which can be improved with postural stability.
  • Sensory integration that impacts your child’s arousal level, oral-motor skills, and aspects of hearing and feeding.
  • Motor planning skills, which impact your child’s ability to move the articulators (tongue, lips, soft palate, etc.) into place to form sounds for speech.
  • Executive function skills that impact language. As your child communicates, they must be able to plan, organize, and sequence their thoughts and ideas into a logical narrative.
  • Hand-writing skills needed for written language.

These are just a few ways in which occupational therapy can impact a child’s speech and language skills. For more information or to find out if your child may benefit from occupational therapy, talk to your pediatrician or current therapist, or give us a call for information about our referral process!


We are GROWING!  Lowcountry Therapy Center is proud to announce a position opening for a full-time pediatric physical therapist.  This position is clinic-based.  Candidate would be working side-by-side with occupational therapists and speech language pathologists. Work environment cannot be beat.

Contact Jessi at Pediatric experience is preferred, new grads apply... Mentorship opportunities!  Benefits package and more.

April is Occupational Therapy Month!

April is Occupational Therapy Month, and we are excited to celebrate this awesome field and the wonderful occupational therapists who promote OT on a daily basis!  I’ll start by answering this frequently asked question:

What is occupational therapy?

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), “Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations).” A child’s life is made up of many “occupations,” or daily activities, including playing, learning, and socializing. Occupational therapy practitioners work with children and their families to help them succeed in these activities throughout the day. Here are just a few areas of development that OT can help address:

Attention span and arousal level

If a child isn’t interested, fidgets constantly, or simply doesn’t look at what she is doing, she can’t learn effectively. An OT can help you discover what motivates your child and makes his body ready to learn, pay attention and stay focused.

Sensory processing skills

Every day, our bodies are exposed to sensory input from the external environment (seeing, hearing, touch, smell, and taste) as well as from inside our bodies (movement, balance, and internal body awareness). All this input must be registered by sensory receptors, processed in the brain, and acted upon in an adaptive way in order for a child to function at her best.

Fine motor and gross motor skills

OTs can help children with fine motor skills such as drawing, using scissors, buttoning, and stringing beads by improving the strength, coordination, and dexterity needed to complete these tasks. OTs also work on gross motor skills, such as throwing and catching a ball, coordinating both sides of your body (bilateral integration), and planning and carrying out movements smoothly and efficiently.

Activities of daily living (ADLs)

Children have many ADL tasks to master, and most children love becoming independent with these tasks. OTs help children learn to eat with utensils, get dressed and undressed, use the toilet, and handle grooming and hygiene tasks appropriately for their age.

Visual-perceptual skills

From stacking blocks to doing puzzles, a child must be able to perceive differences and relationships between objects in his environment. An OT can help a child to perceive these relationships in order to better understand the world around him.


Handwriting skills, from writing your name to taking class notes legibly, can be extremely difficult for some children to learn. OTs use a multisensory approach to handwriting, and look at how the child’s fine motor, visual-perceptual, and other skills impact handwriting performance.

Read more about what the role of occupational therapy is when working with children and youth by click here.

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