Summer is the season for getting outdoors and enjoying spectacular weather. It is a time for cookouts, baseball games, waterskiing, and more. For some occupational and physical therapy patients though, summer is so much more. It is an opportunity to get outside during therapy sessions. They get to do things that otherwise are not available to them during indoor sessions.
In Bismarck North Dakota, patients at Sanfords Children’s Therapy Castle do most of their therapy indoors. But once a year, they get to go outside to a local park where they participate in all of their regular therapy sessions in a much more relaxed and playful environment.
The park is a perfect environment for their therapy because it offers the kids so much to do. Therapists take advantage of playground equipment to teach patients new skills or let them practice those skills they are currently working on. The kids see it as play, which makes the therapy so much more productive.
Kids Can Do a Lot
The program in Bismarck is just one of many similar programs that take place all around the country. At the core of these outdoor therapy sessions is the belief that kids with disabilities can do a lot if just given the chance. Disability doesn’t necessarily mean a child cannot go on a swing or enjoy the merry-go-round. Taking them to the park shows both them and their parents what they are truly capable of.
For physical and occupational therapists, this is often the biggest challenge. They work hard to overcome the natural fears that come with disability. They work to convince patients and family members that there is an entire world open to them.
Taking therapy outdoors also breaks up the routine a bit. This can be good in the sense that it reinvigorates patients. It gives them something to look forward to as well, which could make the difference in cases where patients have leveled off and potentially stagnated. Getting outdoors and into an entirely different environment shakes things up.
An Opportunity for Therapists
Taking therapy outdoors during the summer is good for patients and family members. It is also good for therapists in that it challenges them to go beyond their own comfort zones as clinicians. Going outdoors is a wonderful opportunity for hospital or clinic therapists to find new ways to reach patients. It is an opportunity for locum tenens therapists to potentially implement some techniques they learned in previous assignments.
Therapists are constantly challenged to find new ways to help clients. That’s one of the unique aspects of physical, occupational, and speech therapy – as compared to many other medical disciplines that rely on a more rote set of methodologies. There really is no black and white manual for therapists. They use whatever means works in each patient’s case.
Taking therapy outdoors is just another one of those means. And depending on where therapy is conducted, therapists may have access to a greater range of tools. The park is just one example. It gives therapists access to swings, slides, climbing bars, and all sorts of other equipment. It gives them access to wide open spaces for running around. Therapists can have their patients kicking the ball, playing a game of tag, or whatever.
People love the summer season for a variety of reasons. If you are a therapist, your favorite part of summer might be taking your patients outside for their sessions. Getting outdoors is a terrific way to approach therapy from an entirely different angle that just isn’t possible when you’re indoors. Thank goodness for summer.