Little Bodies and Lots of Attention

by Jill Taylor on April 2, 2013

in Community Information

babyThose who work with children often witness special miracles. These small spirits overcome great odds, push forward with hope, and inspire those around them.

After a traumatic incident or debilitating disease, some children turn to therapists for help. Physical therapists have a unique role to work alongside these children over a period of time and help them meet specific goals. They are invested in the child’s growth and development and find it a rewarding experience.

McLane Children’s Scott & White physical therapist, Kelli Howell says she has one of the best jobs in the world.

“It is truly a blessing to be a part of each child’s progress,” she says, “We are our patients’ cheerleader, coach, and advocate.”

Howell is one of many therapists working with children from birth to age 18. Therapists are broken down into specific roles, to best serve the child and restore function.

Types of Therapists

Therapists help children who have had surgery, have a debilitating disease, or need help with specific skills. They work with the child to improve performance and quality of life.

Some specific therapists include:

  • Speech Therapists— Speech therapy helps children with difficulty swallowing, eating, drinking, or communicating.
  • Occupational Therapists— Occupational therapy guides the child to develop fine motor abilities and activities of daily living such as bathing, using writing utensils, and dressing.
  • Physical Therapists— Physical therapy will focus on a patient’s gross motor ability, strength, balance, and ambulation.

Your child may work with all of these therapists if he needs help in multiple areas. This allows the child to gain full recovery and confidence for everyday activities. “We use a team approach to give a patient the best care possible,” says Howell.

Whether the child is treated in the hospital or a clinic, he will benefit from expert attention and special therapy treatments. In addition, therapists have access to the braces, wheelchairs or walking devices your child may need.

How a Therapist Can Help

Parents and therapists often work closely to establish goals for the child. Just as it takes patience as a parent, therapists also require patience as they give children the special attention they need. Therapy takes time, and certain exercises or tasks may need to be continued after sessions in the hospital or clinic.

“We educate and work with parents closely to give them the tools to help their children recover,” says Howell.

Therapy Tailored to Children

Therapists are able to experience a child’s recovery from a major trauma or the child’s newfound abilities to sit, crawl, or walk. Therapists perform special exercises with children while pushing them to gain new skills and improve their development.

“Each exercise program is tailored to fit each patient’s needs,” says Howell. “While a child with cystic fibrosis may need posture and aerobic conditioning, a patient with a femur fracture may need range of motion and strengthening exercises.”

A trained therapist who understands children allows for reasonable expectations. A child’s body and muscles are still growing and developing. Certain exercises that may help adults may not be the best solution for a small child. Having a therapist trained in pediatric therapy can take the patient’s level of motor development and age into account.

Helping Patients Push Through

It can become emotionally exhausting for patients who have lost function or who are recovering from a disease. These children need encouragement and a positive attitude to help them push through their difficulties.

Howell says she sees families who have life changing challenges, but they still find great strength. This spirit is important to the success of the patient, and brings great meaning to the role of the therapist.

“Most pediatric therapists will tell you their job is a calling,” says Howell. “We are able to see children grow and develop. It is truly a blessing to be a part of each child’s progress. “

Although their bodies may be little, pediatric therapists give them the attention they need to grow, develop and succeed in life. If you’re interested, find out how to get your child to see a pediatric therapist.


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