Mahir Reiss explains that providing physical therapy services for children requires a different approach than when that professional is working with an adult. Physical therapists can play a major role in a child’s development, and should feel equipped to connect with these kids in order to inspire them and help them become healthy and strong. For pediatric physical therapists, here are some tips for success:
Learn about what matters to children
It is easy for physical therapists to relate to adults because they are on the same level. They are both worried about their children, planning a vacation, and navigating a career. This makes for easy conversation and productive sessions. Much like a physical therapist must make it a point to converse and connect with their clients, a pediatric physical therapist has to be able to do this with younger patients.
To make this possible, Mahir Reiss says that it is important for a pediatric physical therapist to remain aware of the things that matter to children. This could mean a popular music group that kids love, the hottest new toy that everyone is asking for during the holidays, or a TV show that they cannot keep their eyes off of.
Even pediatric physical therapists with just a basic knowledge about pop culture for kids will find that it is much easier to form a connection with these young people. Children love nothing more than talking about their favorite toys, books, movies, and celebrities, so knowing just one or two questions to ask can prompt a rich discussion during the session. Over time, this will lead to a strong bond between the physical therapist and client.
Additionally, Mahir Reiss states that it is important to remain aware of the latest technology. The way that children communicate with friends and family members today is far different from even five or 10 years ago. Understanding how communication has evolved and shifted is another part of connecting with young clients. If the practitioner is speaking about instant messenger and children have not used that method of communication in years, the physical therapist will lose credibility and have a hard time connecting with his or her patients.
Know the other adults in that child’s life
The boy or girl’s success in physical therapy will depend on many factors, including what their home life is like, how they do in school, and what kinds of activities they participate in on the weekends. It is challenging to prescribe a physical therapy regimen that will work well for that young person if the physical therapist has no idea what the rest of this child’s life looks like. Whenever possible, it is important to get to know the boy or girl’s parents, siblings, teachers, and other doctors, in order to prescribe a treatment plan that is cohesive with the rest of that kid’s life.
Mahir Reiss explains that providing physical therapy for young kids is no easy feat, and is one that requires patience and dedication on the part of the practitioner. However, regardless of how much training that person has had, there will be times when questions arise and that professional simply does not have the answer. In this instance, it is important to seek out the opinions of other physical therapy professionals who may have experienced a similar situation.
Ask for help
Mahir Reiss says that a physical therapist should never feel too prideful to ask for help or feedback from another industry professional. In many instances, this person will have found a unique solution to the problem that therapist is currently going through, and can provide useful insight about how to proceed.
Additionally, it is important to continually strive to learn new techniques and ideas when it comes to pediatric physical therapy. Staying informed is one of the best ways to remain effective as a physical therapy professional. There are many ways to do this, including joining professional groups, signing up for email newsletters, and continually reading blogs and articles pertaining to pediatric physical therapy.
Take continuing education classes
A person is never too experienced to continue their education, states Mahir Reiss. In fact, the best practitioners are those who are continually learning new concepts and techniques about the physical therapy industry. There are plenty of opportunities to take continuing education courses that give insight into new developments that may further enable a physical therapist to be more successful with their young clients.
Remember that attitude is everything when it comes to working with young patients. Kids are very in tune with how the adults around them are feeling. This means that if a physical therapist is getting fed up or frustrated, the child will pick up on this sentiment and will begin to echo it in their own actions. Instead, regardless of how insurmountable the problem seems at the time, it is important to maintain a positive and focused outlook so that the young client behaves the same way.
Do not forget to reward children for their progress along the way. Instead of presenting huge goals that could take months or years to accomplish, Dr. Reiss encourages practitioners to break these large goals into small, manageable chunks. Mahir Reiss explains that this makes it easier for the young client to feel as if they have accomplished something, instead of working endlessly toward a far-off achievement.