Physical therapy is a critical service for many students in schools. With ever-expanding approaches, treatments, and techniques available, physical therapy helps more children than ever before. As physical therapists incorporate modern, evidence-based methods, students benefit greatly.
Specialists use a variety of techniques when they work with students. They use foam rollers to help individuals rehabilitate and strengthen muscles, while music therapy is proving to be a powerful and effective strategy to help children. Specific physical therapy techniques improve constipation concerns for many young people. Therapists are also incorporating the latest in technology – virtual reality – into their treatment regimens.
The Call to Physical Therapy and the Benefits PT Provides to Children
School-based physical therapy is a noble profession. Your role is to help students improve fitness, recover from injury, maintain healthy lifestyles, design curriculum, and more. With students leading increasingly busy lives, stress and anxiety can lead to physical issues, which PTs can help remedy.
Physical therapists may be needed after school or during the academic day to work with children. As time goes on, these children may start to ask questions about which college you went to and what type of career paths are possible. Share information and give them ways to learn more about how you started your path. On the flip side, if children have a negative experience, they may fear medical professionals and physical therapists in the future. It may mean noncompliance with doctor rules and lead to further injury.
If you are working on your physical therapy degree, think about the different venues where you could use your degree. Do you like to work with children? Would you like to help them overcome an injury or work on strengthening their gross motor skills to make them more independent? Think about the different types of children who you may work with and how you could positively alter their life. Be sure to take the time to shadow in schools to see what physical therapists are responsible for these days.
Using Foam Rollers for Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is part of the school day for many students. Older children may require it because of injuries that happened while playing sports on school teams. Many physical therapists are looking at a popular new piece of equipment to use with their students, such as a foam roller, or “froller.” In physical therapy, foam rollers are often used in rehabilitation and exercise routines. They work well because they may be used for a variety of different treatments and have positive effects on many ailments. In addition to this, foam rollers are cost-effective. Since they are reasonably priced, they work well with budgets. They are also easy to use, and most patients are welcoming to them.
One of the most significant benefits of therapy rollers is the way they massage muscles. When this happens, it’s called a self-myofascial release. The weight of the body is put onto the roller and you slowly roll over the area being targeted. When you roll over tight muscle sections, the foam roller helps to work on that area and allows it to relax. Using this technique regularly will keep the muscles from getting worse and maintain the therapeutic results. Other advantages of using foam rollers include improved balance, core strength, and flexibility.
How Music Therapy Helps Physical Therapy Students
Music therapy has been around for quite some time. So, what is music therapy? Its general purpose is to help individuals reach goals in therapy sessions using music as an intervention. Music therapists often work with physical therapists in schools to combine the benefits of music within physical therapy sessions.
People who exercise know that they often enjoy it more when they have music playing. Some benefits of music during therapy include:
- The music may energize them.
- It allows children to focus on something else when they start to get fatigued.
- Music distracts the mind from thinking about how long a workout has taken place.
- Simply listening to music can uplift and motivate you.
Physical therapy sessions can be hard work for kids. They may have to do repetitions of exercises which are not fun. In addition to this, practicing movements will challenge muscles and may make them tired. This fatigue can alter their mood and motivation quickly. When something becomes more work during a therapy session, kids can shut down and refuse to continue. This is where music can be combined with typical routines to assist children.
When used properly, the tempo of music can also compliment movements encouraged during physical therapy. A music therapist could help pick songs that will help to keep the music and muscles in sync. A trained music therapist can design a music program to go along with specific physical therapy interventions and exercises.
Older students in physical therapy may help make playlists of music that help them be more inspired to work on their exercises. Giving kids some input will make it more their own and keep them more actively engaged in the session. Research shows how music therapy affects the brain positively and can be a valuable technique for therapists to use.
How Physical Therapy Can Help Children with Constipation
We often forget about other factors that may come into play in the academic environment. Early on, preschool teachers watch as young children begin and progress with toilet training. This milestone is a complicated process for many children. While some kids pick up going to the bathroom quickly, others struggle with it for multiple reasons. In particular, defecating can cause many young children to stress because they don’t feel comfortable on adult toilets. Other children are sensitive to public restrooms, which include those in a school setting. Thanks to this concern, they may avoid going to the bathroom altogether. After some time, what is known as functional constipation becomes an issue for some of these kids.
Research is now looking into the benefits of exercise to help ease constipation concerns. Functional constipation may have a link with weak pelvic floor muscles. This condition could be caused by incorrect posture and sitting on adult toilet seats. If pelvic muscles are weak, children may have trouble controlling bowel movements. Physical therapists can work with children on their posture and pelvic muscle strength. A study in the Netherlands showed that with exercise, many kids showed improvement in the ability to sense needing to go to the bathroom and actually going.
PTs work with children through specific strategies, including:
- Biofeedback training
- Orthopedic/manual therapy
- Strength training
- Bowel/bladder habits awareness and education
- Dietary routines
- Sensation reorientation
Furthermore, physical therapy can be useful for constipation concerns in children of all ages.
The Use of Virtual Reality for Physical Therapy in Schools
Physical therapists are always looking for ways to keep children actively engaged during sessions. Thanks to this, they need fun, motivating, and rewarding activities to keep their patients moving and working on their goals. At Northeastern University, they are developing video games that will help physical therapists. Within their Rehabilitation Games and Virtual Reality Laboratory, they are working on seeing how virtual worlds will benefit physical therapy patients. Utilizing gaming during therapy helps kids move parts that may be injured or weak more easily and willingly. Games, mazes, and other tasks in a virtual reality world can motivate patients and track progress.
There are specific keys to coordinating physical therapy benefits with virtual reality games, such as:
- Make the task fun. Children need to be fully engaged.
- It should be challenging. Games should be difficult, but not too hard as to cause frustration. If the movement and exercise are too easy, there will be no measurable gain for the physical therapy goals.
- Games should be motivational. The child will want to continue working to improve.
Physical therapy and engineering students worked together to create the Wearable Health and Activity Monitor (WHAM). This device uses sensors and an accelerometer. This combination allows the device to collect data on movement and the energy expended when users try activities. Kids can hit big balls at virtual targets and even jump through bubbles in a virtual world. Data collected can be monitored to see how it is helping their bodies and what should be adjusted. Additional activities will work on reaching, extending, and balance.
By using virtual reality, physical therapy has soared into the future, and the potential is limitless.
The Importance of Physical Therapy in Schools
Physical therapy is a valuable service for students of all levels: elementary, middle, and high school. By adapting techniques and treatments to different ages, therapists can help children reach their highest potentials. If the field of physical therapy calls strongly to you, you can enter into a rewarding and essential position. Seeing students succeed is the ultimate reward, and you can serve a crucial role in that success.
If you are seeking a position as a school-based physical therapist, ProCare is your partner, with a wealth of resources and a network of experts at your service. Browse our job listings today through the button below, and find the perfect physical therapy position for you.Physical Therapy Jobs