Monday, September 7, 2009

The Physical Therapy Factor

I wanted to write about how physical therapy was and still is used by us here at home and whether or not it has made a difference. I understand the discouragements that physical therapy treatments, evals, etc. can sometimes bring. So I wanted to share our story here.

Let me preface this post by saying that John was born with no medical issues, so he was born a very healthy child with Down syndrome.

John has had physical therapy from Dad since the first day of his life. We started with baby massage and progressed to using different textures for tactile, dancing to music, being swung in the air, being held close, the pool, the Bumbo chair, just playing with his siblings, the bouncer, johnny jump-up, etc.

All of these tools have helped at each stage in his life in order to teach a new skill and to how to perform the skill correctly. Teaching John to perform the skill correctly is the operative phrase here.

Currently, John is pulling up and standing with one hand assist and walks with two hand assist. By our evaluation of John, he is probably at a 8 to 9 month level which I'm not sure if that puts him behind or in front of the Down syndrome curve. Mostly, it tells us that he is learning and we are pleased with that.

As far as the question of how much physical therapy has helped him, that is difficult to measure. Personally, I feel that the first 3 months of therapy has probably been the most beneficial for John. The other 9 months of therapy has also helped but I believe the initial 3 months gave him the jump start that he needed in order to self motivate and to build his confidence in order to take risks and to try new things.

Another important thing that physical therapy has done for John is to prevent bad patterns of movement and promote patterns that are more functional. We have all worked with him on developing functional patterns of movement that he will now make thos movements himself.

One suggestion that I would like to leave you with is to communicate with the entire family about what is happening in therapy and what is being worked on so that everyone that plays with your child can encourage correct movement patterns in the child. The more the child uses those correct patterns, the more he/she will begin to use them automatically in daily play. Learning good functional patterns early will benefit the child later in life when they become more active and independent.


Linda said...

So glad you are blogging again! I always love to hear your insight. We are so thankful for all of Lila's therapists- she has come so far and I don't believe that she would be where she is without them. I love her to pieces, but I can't possibly specialize in all of the areas where she just needs a little extra help.

Jill said...

I love to watch our older kids do "therapy" with Nate. Sometimes it's the real-deal...the steps and procedures that the PT suggests-and other times (most times, actually!) it's their own version of therapy which usually includes lots of giggles, tickles, floor rolling, hugging, encouraging, cheering and laughing. Nate benefits from both, for sure. But he sure does love the sib therapy!

Beverly said...

great post! John is so lucky to have his own Dad for PT!