Purveyor of Potential

Advance Therapy pediatric clinic helps kids be their best.
Julia Antiel and 6-year-old Caroline Peck at a recent therapy session.

Advance Therapy, the pediatric occupational, physical and speech therapy clinic that opened in White Bear Lake last fall, helps children and their families with a wide variety of challenges, using a number of evidence-based techniques. And all of these techniques have a common objective: “To help the child reach his or her full potential,” says Advance Therapy’s clinical director, Julia Antiel.

Advance Therapy, which treats conditions such as autism, developmental cognitive delays, movement disorders and more—and offers parent and community educational programming such as expectant/new parent, infant handling and encouraging motor development classes—is co-owned by Jennifer Corbin, an occupational therapist, and Jennifer Jensen, a speech language pathologist. They opened Advance’s first location in Lino Lakes in 2006, as the clinic's only employees, with White Bear Lake opening this past September.

Before founding Advance in 2006,  Corbin and Jensen worked together at a similar clinic in Woodbury. “We loved working with the kids and families, but we felt we could do things a little differently, taking a more family-focused and individualized approach,” Corbin says. “When we start working with a new client, we are concerned with that child and family dynamic, what is important to them. Based on that evaluation, we offer only treatment that is going to work for them.”

One of the therapists’ roles is helping parents understand whether their child’s development falls into the normal range; not all children develop at the same rate. For example, most children are walking when they reach the 1-year mark, but not always. “Some start walking at 9 months; others don't walk until 15 or 17 months—but they are still within the normal range,” Antiel says. They help parents spot any “red flags of development”—when they should be concerned because of a delay in one or more areas of development.

One of their priorities is involving the family in the therapeutic process. Parents need to be part of treatment, since no one knows a child better than his or her parents, Antiel notes. The therapists empower parents to help their child, Corbin says, teaching the parents what they will need to do to help their child work on the prescribed skills.  “We need to figure out the best way to work on skills at home, and incorporate it into the family's daily routine,” says Antiel, who has worked with children as young as 5 days old. “It's important that parents learn to understand how a child functions best, to reach their greatest level of potential.”

Beth Ann Peck, whose 6-year-old daughter, Caroline, is a client at the clinic, says Advance's individualized treatment approach is key. In 2012, Peck and her husband, Kevin, brought their daughter to the clinic, concerned about her delayed motor skills. Peck, who was referred to Advance by a University of Minnesota pediatric clinic, has also been impressed by Advance's use of cutting-edge therapy techniques.  By way of example, she cites the Masgutova method, a relatively new technique that uses guided movement to restore the brain's early neuronal circuits, which control movement.

Weekly physical therapy with Julia Antiel and occupational therapy with Jennifer Corbin have helped Caroline get “on track with her peers,” Peck says. At the clinic, “they really see my daughter as an individual, and they truly love kids. They want the best for her, the same as they would for their own kids.”