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Physical therapist helps kids grow stronger in school, life
By Liz Best
Special to Neighborhood Post, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Jim Moore is the first to admit that dividing his time between working on a doctoral degree, running a therapy clinic for children, teaching at the University of Miami and raising two boys has been a strain.

"The last two years have been tight, " he says.

But you'd never know he was burning the candle at both ends just by looking at the Jupiter clinic he operates, Children's Therapies Inc., where services are offered to a variety of children, many with special needs. CTI began in 1999 and the staff has steadily grown to include 20 physical, occupational and speech therapists.

Moore, who lives in Jupiter Farms, couldn't run the place without them.

"I believe we have 20 of the best clinicians in the county. They run the clinic," he said.

The clinic caters to children with cerebral palsy, those with social and developmental problems and to children who have a problem shared by many adults — bad handwriting.

Handwriting Help is one of the clinic's most popular programs, Moore said. It started three years ago as a summer camp for kindergartners through third-graders. Moore also started a twice monthly tutorial program, Handwriting Help Night, which takes place the second and fourth Tuesday of the month from 4:45 to 5:30 p.m.

Strengthening arm and hand dexterity is the secret to improving handwriting, said Moore. The classes are fun and students and parents report improvement in school as a result.

Moore partially blames the school system for many children's handwriting woes. Not only are children expected to begin writing at a young age, but very little time is spent focusing on the basics of handwriting.

He remembers being painstakingly taught cursive handwriting when he was growing up.

"Now, they don't teach handwriting in schools... but kids are graded on it," he said. "We have had people come back and say that it has helped. It is a really good program. It sustains itself and continues to grow."

Another program offered is a social group for children who have difficulty interacting with other people. Run by speech and occupational therapists, the program uses role playing and videotaping to help the children and parents see where certain social problems lie.

"Every other week, one of the therapists meet with the parents to look at video. They are then given homework and practice for the home setting. It really has made a big difference," said Moore. "This year we're trying to pull some high school kids into the program to be role models."

The third program is called Litegait, or body weight supported ambulation, Moore said. It uses a harness to support the child's weight.

"It unweights you and allows (me) to help with walking. We do it with developmentally delayed kids and older kids with cerebral palsy," said Moore, whose doctoral dissertation is on the relationship between balance and walking ability in children.

Moore, who has a master's degree in physical therapy from the University of Miami, returned to UM to earn his Ph.D. in physical therapy. He plans to finish this spring.

Then, Moore will have more time for wife Karen, who works as office manager at CTI, and their boys Jake, 12, and Keith, 10, both of whom are active in Scouting.

Even though the past two years have been "tight," as Moore puts it, the hard work and long hours were worth it.

"It's helped me refine how I think."

What is your favorite book?

Into Thin Air.

Is there another profession you'd like to try?

"I guess I'd like to be an adventure guide."


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