Exercise disguised as play

Physio is a great way to help children overcome physical challenges

By Lindsey Bunin

Jessica Osborn’s six-year-old daughter, Elodie, has cerebral palsy left-sided hemiplegia, due to a brain hemorrhage when she was born 14 weeks prematurely. 

“Having a child with a physical disability leaves you feeling strongly that you don’t want any further hindrance to them being able to accomplish physical challenges,” says Osborn. “She’s an extremely active kid, but her leg muscles have increased tone and subsequently she struggles with balance and strength. Thankfully, she’s wdetermined, and nothing stands in her way.”

A tailored physiotherapy approach has helped Elodie improve her mobility.

“For a kid like Elodie, physio will always play an important role in ensuring that we help her body to develop as well as it possibly can,” says Osborn. 

When Elodie started treatments while living in Victoria, B.C. two years ago at age four, she was unable to walk across a balance beam unsupported and could not balance on her left leg at all. Physio made a big difference and they wanted to continue treatments when they recently moved to Nova Scotia. Elodie started going to the new Kids Physio practice in Bayers Lake. 

“Elodie loves it,” says Osborn. “She’s so excited on the days when we have a session. She has an absolute blast even though she’s physically working very hard.”

The interior of Kids Physio looks more like an indoor playground and less like a clinical setting, which is exactly what owner Samantha Dawe wants children to see when they enter.

“It’s a super open space with tons of toys and equipment that caters and appeals to all ages, like a slide, swings and monkey bars,” says Dawe. “We use hands-on manual therapy. It’s exercise cleverly designed as forms of play.”

The clinic opened last May and works with patients from birth to 18 years. 

“We work with babies who might not be meeting their common physical milestones, like rolling, sitting, walking,” says Dawe. “The sooner we can start treatment, the better.”

Toddlers are often referred to physiotherapy for toeing in or out, or W sitting. Older, school-aged kids are more frequently coming in with developmental coordination disorder. 

“Formerly, kids would be labelled as being awkward or clumsy,” says Dawe. “But it’s becoming more formally diagnosed and can present as challenges with handwriting, brushing teeth, tying shoes, learning to ride a bike, things like that.”

The oldest kids they see, in their late teens, most often need support with sports injuries.  

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