Fun Helps the Healing During Rehabilitation
We all know that rehabilitation after a surgery or an injury can often be an exhausting and painful process. When children are the ones who need rehab, that process can present even more unique challenges, like making sure therapy is fun as well as effective. For therapists here at Shriners Children’s Texas, that challenge is one they gladly take on every day. “Our goal is to help patients make full recoveries, or as close as they can,” said Clayton Chapman, director of rehabilitation services.
Shriners Children's offers pediatric rehabilitation and therapy services to support our patients physically, mentally and developmentally. Inpatient and outpatient therapies can support a child’s function and quality of life, restore independence and allow physical and emotional healing. Our rehabilitation team uses a variety of techniques to make sure patients receive the best care possible.
These techniques include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, recreational therapy and sometimes even psychology. Every department works collaboratively to make sure the child’s needs are met, and to make the healing process fun.
Occupational therapist Christina Mooneyham recalled one instance where the entire rehab team did the chicken dance with a patient to help her feel less shy about getting up and moving. “We try and incorporate other kiddos,” she said about making therapy fun. “We also try and find out what motivates them, and incorporate that into their therapy. This might be superheroes, Disney characters, video games and even dancing.”
Patients driving an electric toy car around the rehabilitation room, riding tricycles up and down the hallway, or playing games in the child life room are common sights at the hospital, as therapists get creative about helping patients heal. The rehabilitation room even hosts an electronic game stand, where children love to play a variety of video games. Chapman pointed out, “While the kids are enjoying their games, they’re also working on hand-eye coordination and building endurance for standing.”
Every patient receives their own individualized plan based on what they need. Physical therapy can help children learn how to sit, stand or walk, and can also improve wheelchair skills or the use of new prostheses. Occupational therapy can help children learn how to better participate in routine childhood activities, and speech therapy can help children with communication, as well as with eating and swallowing.
“On a good day, it’s a lot of fun. There are some days where it almost feels like camp,” Chapman said. He goes on to explain that the mental welfare of the kids going through therapy always comes first in everyone’s mind. “If the kids are having a bad day, we try and give them space. Sometimes you need to allow the kids to have some space to experience their grief.”
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