As a travel physical therapist one of the biggest hurdles you have to overcome when working with children is their fear of the doctor. Sometimes putting on your biggest smile and calmest voice simply doesn’t cut it. This is especially difficult for travel physical therapist jobs because you may only be working with the child for a short amount of time.
But, what is it about physical therapy that scares children so much? How can travel physical therapists avoid this fear and make therapy a fun, exciting, and productive experience for them?
Here are 5 ways to help travel physical therapists break the ice and ease a child’s fear of the doctor during their next session.
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Tips for Travel Physical Therapists to Help Ease a Child’s Fear
- Explain What’s Happening – Children are intelligent humans that absorb and mimic everything that we do (sometimes to our dismay). They observe us constantly and know a lot more about what’s going on around them then we give them credit for. But, travel physical therapists can use this to their advantage. When going through a new technique or trying a new approach, take the time to explain to the child, step-by-step what tests and/or activities you are going to be doing with them. If possible, test out the technique on yourself first and then walk the child through it. Let them ask questions about what you are doing and why you are doing it and be ready to answer them, honestly.
- Make it Fun – As a travel physical therapist, you should consider different ways to help make your sessions more child friendly. Whether it’s giving away small prizes at the end of your sessions, rewards for accomplishing a particular goal, or using pokemon go as a therapy tool, developing different ways to make physical therapy more enjoyable for the child should be a top priority and an easy way to ease their fears.
- Incorporate Innovative Technology – According to Duluth News Tribune, a new innovative robot called MEDi has made its way into the hearts of children at the Broward Health Medical Center. This little robot acts as a companion to anxious children at 8 different hospitals. His main goal is to distract children and ease their fears as the doctors perform tests on them. While MEDi is currently being used as a comfort companion, similar robots could also be used to help aid physical therapists in getting children to get more active, perform certain physical movements, and more. Keep an eye on the world of medical technology and consider ways of incorporating it into your own physical therapy sessions. Don’t have the funding for expensive medical technology? The Foundation for Physical Therapy provides research grant opportunities for research performed by physical therapists. Not what you’re looking for or due dates already past? Try Open Education Database’s (OEDb) article on 100+ Places to Find Funding for Your Research.
- Listen to them – One of the worst ways to deal with an anxious child during physical therapy is not listening to their fears. By hearing what the child has to say and responding to their reactions you are reassuring the child that you understand how they feel and that you actually care about them. Not only will this calm them down, but it may also help to provide insight into why they are acting a certain way and possibly solve unforeseen problems.
- Get on Their Level – Finally, the last tip we have for travel physical therapists to help ease a child’s fear is to physically break the distance between yourself and the child. One way to do this is by physically getting down on their level. You can do this by simply crouching down and speaking with them at eye level.
So, there you have it. 5 ways to help ease the fear children have of physical therapy. What other tips have you used in your practice to help ease fear?