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On-Demand The Pervasive Impact of Breath on Function: What to Know and What to Do
Eileen Richter
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Eileen Richter & Patricia Oetter

CEUs: 3 contact hours (.3 AOTA CEUs)

Course Preview
Check out this 3-minute video introduction to the course
OT, PT, SLP and interested others
Course Description

Breath has not always been a focus in pediatric treatment. New information is shedding light on how respiration impacts many aspects of development. It is therefore necessary for us to take a more in-depth and active approach to breathing function in our clients with regulatory, sensory processing and/or sensory motor dysfunction.


Current study of breathing restrictions be they structural, functional, or the result of trauma or allergies is identifying associations with regulatory disorders such as sleep apnea, sleep patterns, ADD, and ADHD; as well as motor skills such as feeding, posture and other skills. Observation of respiratory patterns leads to a better understanding of development and sensory motor outcomes. Identifying where 3-dimensional rib cage expansion, i.e. breath, is restricted (diaphragm, upper chest, neck, mouth, nose) provides clues to function and is a foundational focus for treatment. Rate, depth, rhythm and gradation are required for attention, self-regulation, endurance, postural control, eating, voicing for speech, and many other development achievements. 


This workshop will emphasize the process of respiratory development, from in utero on, as it relates to typical and atypical sensory processing, and sensory motor processing and development. We will discuss how this applies to assessment and treatment of pediatric clients with varied diagnoses. Using lectures, slides, & videos, we will explore assessment and treatment options to address various dysfunctional respiratory patterns.

Course Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  1. Discuss the way breath impacts regulation, sleep, feeding and eating, postural control, communication and cognition.

  2. Identify the markers of respiratory dysfunction in breathing patterns.

  3. Describe treatment strategies for at least 3 to 4 dysfunctional respiratory patterns.


Session 1: The Role of Respiration in Development – Fetal Development to Function (38 minutes)

This lecture describes the relationship between development of human functions and respiration that starts in utero. The pervasiveness of this interdependence is seen in the variety of functional behaviors that affect respiration and vice versa in both typical and atypical development. Some of the critical functions discussed include oral motor, feeding/eating, sleeping, self-regulation, posture, cognition and communication.


Session 2: Respiratory Mechanisms – Neuro-anatomical/Structural/Functional Processes (45 minutes)

An overview of the neurology and biomechanics of respiration provides a basis for evaluating function on many levels. Emphasis in this session is to understand the interconnection between respiratory mechanics and posture and the how progression of infant/child development impacts and is impacted by respiratory development.


Session 3: Assessment of Respiratory Function – Observation, Considerations (49 minutes)

We will be assessing respiration from a functional standpoint using video and photo examples related to suck/swallow/breath organization, postural patterns, and variety of respiratory patterns. A video case will be included with a structure to record observations and treatment strategies.


Session 4: Treatment – Principles, Cases, Strategies (49 minutes)

Treatment objectives and strategies will be discussed and demonstrated including three “Before and After” cases. For example: an infant with feeding/sleeping problems; a 12 month old with sensory motor delays and a 10 year old with multiple atypical oral, postural and respiratory issues. Numerous treatment examples will be provided for dynamic surfaces, blowing/sound play, heavy work/antigravity strategies and
environmental accommodations.

Instructional Methods

The speakers will be using a lecture with slides, videos, and case studies.

Course Requirements

The participant must complete the course in its entirety. Following the passing score of 80% on the post-course quiz, the participant will be immediately issued a course completion certificate that can be downloaded or printed.

Continuing Education

3 Contact Hours (.3 AOTA CEUs) awarded if course requirements are met. Integrative Education is an AOTA Approved Provider, number 11607, for Distance Learning - Interactive, Distance Learning - Independent Self-Study, and Blended/Hybrid courses that include both interactive and independent study aspects.  Course approval number: 00538. This distance learning - independent self-study course is offered at .3 AOTA CEUs for intermediate level, in the areas of occupational therapy service delivery and foundational knowledge. The assignment of AOTA CEUs does not imply endorsement of specific course content, products, or clinical procedures by AOTA. For additional continuing education information for PT, SLP, and social work, click  here to access our CEU policy information.

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