Physical Therapy

Oct. 1, 2019 – I am frequently surprised and delighted by what departments have planned for me when I visit, and today was definitely one of those days. I had just sat down in the large physical therapy gym on the third floor of Rady Children’s Health Services building when suddenly music started thumping and a fashion show began!

This team had some moves!

The stripe down the middle of the floor became a runway for each team member to strut their stuff while wearing Rady Children’s logo wear from across the years. This is an athletic bunch with some serious moves! From flips and spins to Irish and Scottish dancing to one team member walking the runway on their hands, it was quite entertaining.

This highly skilled team of licensed physical therapists, licensed physical therapy assistants and physical therapy aides works with patients from infants to adolescents to help them achieve their optimal developmental and functional levels. Services include outpatient therapy for neurological, congenital, orthopedic and developmental problems and treatment of injures for young athletes as part of the 360 Sports Medicine program.

Tackling the obstacle course

After the fashion show, we moved to the pediatric gym, where therapists demonstrated how they work with babies on learning how to roll over, grab objects and crawl. An obstacle course was set up for me to test my mobility and balance. I stepped over some low hurdles, walked a balance beam, and then stood on a balance ball and shot a basket with a toy. Nailed it!

Next, I went through a typical teen athlete evaluation. Therapists talk with young athletes about their goals and perform an assessment, looking at the whole body’s function and evaluating how they walk and move. I lay on a treatment table for my evaluation and was observed to have tight hamstrings and limited movement in one of my shoulders from an old tennis injury. Fortunately, this skilled team has all of the exercises that would be useful in helping me improve mobility, such as working with stretch bands, at their fingertips.

Embracing my inner athlete

Turns out that was the easy part! The therapists then put me through my paces with exercises such as side-stepping with stretch bands around my ankles, doing ladder drills to test my agility and, the most difficult, balancing on a ball while throwing and catching a ball that I bounced off a trampoline — all while wearing dress shoes and a tie! It made the obstacle course I started with seem like a breeze.

Finally, my work was done and the team presented me with a “graduation day” certificate for completing my day in physical therapy. I feel like I earned it! They also gave me an awesome metal water bottle to stay hydrated while exercising in the future.

It’s great to know we have such a qualified and dedicated team in place. Not only do they help kids recover from injury and work through developmental issues, they help prevent future injury and even assist in improving the performance of young athletes. With my passport stamped and souvenir stretch bands in hand (and a few extra calories burned) I headed to my next meeting. Thanks for the great visit!