When 4-year-old Kate McKenzie was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy, her prognosis was grim. Doctors told her mother, Katie, that Kate may never walk or talk.
“It’s catastrophic. It can even lead to death,” said Katie McKenzie.
But when McKenzie took her daughter to Hands on Therapy Pediatrics in Gastonia, that appointment was different.
“They were like a breath of fresh air and positivity, which I desperately needed,” she said. “They were like, ‘We believe in you. We believe in Kate. This is what we can do.'”
Pediatric Hands on Therapy, owned by occupational therapist Freida Poag, has been in operation in Gastonia since 2008. Poag, however, has been an occupational therapist since 1997. As a child, she saw children come and go from a therapy practice. in Charlotte, and she said that experience inspired her to become an occupational therapist herself.
“I love working with children, and it was always a dream of mine,” Poag said.
When the clinic opened in 2008, it started with home visits. Poag opened a clinic on South New Hope Road. In 2014 they moved to another building in the same office complex.
Then, in April 2021, a building that previously housed a dental clinic caught fire, and Poag and her husband, Bradley, purchased the entire complex in hopes of renovating the building into a new, larger space and expand the clinic.
The new location, located on Pembroke Road in Gastonia, is over 7,000 square feet and has allowed Poag to add four additional therapists to its staff and build a sensory gym for children coming in for therapy.
The clinic serves clients from birth to 21 with a variety of disabilities – cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, spina bifida and feeding difficulties, to name a few.
“The Sensory Gym allows us to provide therapy using an integrative sensory approach. All disciplines – physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy – love providing therapy in the new gym,” Poag said.
Poag said she hopes to expand her practice in the surrounding area.
“It’s all I’ve ever done. The passion to help others, I’ve had it all my life,” Poag said. “I think I’ve always been drawn to the idea of helping others who are different.”
For Katie McKenzie and her daughter, the Poag Clinic has been a godsend.
Kate McKenzie, now 4, visits the clinic several times a week for treatment. After suffering a setback that required brain surgery, therapists at Pediatric Hands on Therapy helped her regain basic physical skills.
“After her brain surgery, she lost a lot of her abilities. She couldn’t even sit up, and they completely rehabilitated her. They got her back to walking. She talks. She’s school – so many things that we were told they just didn’t know what his future was going to be,” McKenzie said.
Through Kate’s health issues, pediatric therapy has been her family’s biggest support, McKenzie said.
“She’s been with them all her life. They’ve supported us through every stressful operation she’s had, and honestly there are people I call when something with her health comes up,” she said. declared.
Today, Kate has no seizures, “which is a miracle in itself, considering the results they gave us when we adopted her,” McKenzie said. “But yeah, the quality of the people who work there and their approaches – They’ve guided us through every major decision in life with Kate and supported us in so many ways. I mean, I can’t say enough good things about it. things about them and how wonderful they are to our community.”