Intensive Therapy Model


The Intensive Therapy Model is a rapidly growing medical treatment for children living with neurological and genetic disorders like Cerebral Palsy, Cystic Fibrosis, and Muscular Dystrophy. Over the past two decades there has been a shift toward Intensive Therapy, and away from more traditional forms of therapy provided to children living with cerebral palsy and other genetic and neurological disorders. Intensive Therapy differs from traditional forms of therapy by increasing the frequency and intensity of children’s therapy sessions. Drawing from a wide variety of treatments such as occupational, speech, and physical therapy, the Intensive Therapy Model ensures that every child receives a combination of intensive therapies that are specifically tailored to the unique physical and intellectual challenges that are posed by neurological disorders.


Any time that an Intensive Therapy model was studied, in comparison to a control group utilizing traditional therapy, the Intensive Therapy participants saw better results than their controlled peers. This Journal of Child Neurology 2014 article summarizes 19 such studies, all of which showed strong evidence for intensive therapy improving function and plasticity. The therapy dose in the studies varied from 40 to 120 hours and was augmented by a home program.

Example of such studies are a 2007 Emory University School of Medicine study focused on children with hemiplegic CP, where those taking part in a 2-week intensive, accompanied by a month-long 1-2 hr/day daily home program, were compared to a control group. The treated children all saw improvements in 11 out of the 12 functions being tested, whereas the control group remained unchanged. 


While the Intensive Therapy Model  is a diverse and effective model that could be used to treat many conditions, SMILE focuses on employing Intensive Therapy as a treatment for children living with neurological disorders. Neurological and genetic conditions often present unique physical and intellectual challenges, therefore, SMILE ensures that each child will receive a custom set of services that are specifically tailored to meet their needs. Through intensive forms of physiotherapy, speech, occupational therapy, massage and a variety of innovative forms of equipment and delivery models, SMILE will ensure that taking part in the Intensive Therapy model will help advance the child’s development and quality of life.


Intensive therapy can be booked in 5-day blocks, typically stretching out Monday to Friday, with each of these blocks comprising of at least 10 therapy hours (typically 2 hours per day). Depending on the endurance and age of the child, each 5-day block could be built up to up to 20 therapy hours (i.e. 4 hours of therapy per day).

For optimal results, if families’ resources allow, we recommend that a child take part in intensive therapy once a quarter and for each intensive blocks to be at least 2-weeks in length.

More Research

A study assessing the effectiveness of a 3-week therapy intensive with children with neurological conditions concluded that it leads to a 176% increase in physical function and a greater likeliness of meeting of therapeutic goals. - Bond University, 2017
A 4-week Therapy Intensive involving 2 hours of therapy per day with children with CP under 2 years of age led to an increase in Gross Motor Function Measure and Bayley Gross Motor Assessment Scores. - Heathcock, 2017
It has been found that intensive therapy for children with unilateral CP can improve their upper extremity function. Children in the experiment group had increased frequency of use for their upper extremities and the quality of the upper extremity use increased compared to the control group who just received their traditional therapy. - Columbia University, 2007

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