If you are reading this blog, you probably already know about the benefits and convenience of Beyond the Clinic’s site visits and our approach to physical therapy. These benefits are great for adults, but even more helpful to children. When Beyond the Clinic’s therapists come to a child’s home, we’ve already saved the child’s parents and any siblings the hassle of packing everyone up in the car, and traveling to an offsite physical therapy clinic. Anyone with young children can testify to how much time this saves! But that’s not all – there are other benefits to providing pediatric physical therapy treatment in the home.
A child’s home is an example of a natural environment – a place where the child participates in everyday routines and activities that are important to the child and his/her family. It is a place where the child can explore and learn in a familiar context. When a child has to go to a clinic, they are not only meeting a new person, but having to adjust to entirely new surroundings – new noises, new people, new spaces, etc. When a Beyond the Clinic therapist comes into a child’s home, the child only has to adjust to meeting a friendly face; he or she is already in a comfortable environment and will often adapt quickly to having someone different in the room. This allows the therapist to see the child in his/her most comfortable and natural state, giving the therapist the best chance to truly assess the child’s abilities.
Being in the home allows the therapist to work directly with the child to achieve functional goals using their furniture, their toys, and their equipment. For example, if a child is having trouble climbing onto the family couch, the therapist can problem solve and practice with the child right there in the living room. It also gives the therapist a chance to create activities and home programs for the family that are modeled in the home, using items that are readily available. Those couch cushions? Great obstacles on the floor for balance or walking! That stool in the kitchen? A perfect height to practice “pull to stand”! This makes it easy to incorporate new activities into their routine. No more trying to explain how to do an activity and hoping that the family can come up with a way to adapt it to their home.
It is also important to note that natural environments are not limited to the home. A child accesses many places in the community. Natural environments can include another family member’s house, parks, libraries, schools, stores, or anywhere else that the child goes with the family. With the flexibility provided by Beyond the Clinic’s home visits, our therapists can work with a child in numerous locations to address any concerns that may be present. One of the best examples of this is working with a child at a neighborhood playground to help the child access the equipment with other kids. Our therapists can help your children achieve their goals in the places that are important to them.
As you can see, children receive many benefits from having physical therapy in their home or in other natural environments. Practicing new skills in the environments that children spend their time makes achieving motor skills fun and functional. The Parent Information Center in Wyoming has a brochure that further explains the benefits of treatment in a natural environment. This brochure references early intervention services, but children who receive outpatient treatment in natural settings receive the same benefits. Plus, children can receive both early intervention and outpatient services at the same time – it’s a great way to collaborate with healthcare professionals to ensure that your child receives the best care possible.
If you know of a child who could benefit from physical, occupational, or speech therapy and lives in the Portland Metro area, give our therapists a call at (503) 496-0385 and we can help answer any questions that you may have.
(Courtesy of Crystal Bridges, DPT)