MU Children's Hospital dedicates new therapy center

Children play with the hippopotamus misting stations at the new Children's Hospital Therapy Center Thursday afternoon. The misting stations are part of a playground meant to help children recover cognitive functions.

Children undergoing therapy at MU Womens' & Children's Hospital will soon be able to spend time every day with a tiger.

A resin figure of the striped panther is one of several wild animals featured on the playground at the new Children's Hospital Therapy Center. Hospital personnel cut the ribbon at the million-dollar. 8,300-square-foot facility Thursday afternoon. Kimberly Dohm, the hospital's clinical supervisor of rehab services, told KRCG 13 the playground is designed to help children regain cognitive function. She said as far as she knew, it is one of just two playgrounds in the United States designed from the ground up as a rehabilitation playground.

"This facility is going to allow children with special needs to come and play in a normal, natural environment," she said.

In addition to the playground, the new facility includes rooms for children to work on gross and fine motor skills, speech and eating and swallowing. There is also a low stimulation gym with extra insulation to help children who are easily overwhelmed by outside stimuli. The playground itself also features a tunnel, musical chimes and misting stations embedded in a pair of hippopotamus figurines. Officials say the playground cost about $270,000, all of which came from private donations.