Physical Therapy

Local physical therapy specialists can come to the school with physical therapy equipment and provide 30 to 40 minutes of training to volunteers for gross motor activities.  This can be held in an available separate room at school or in the multipurpose room.

Activities can include instruction and activities in wheelchairs and with grabbers and walkers.  The children can try on foot braces and have a session on a physical therapy ball.  With four volunteers to run the room, this activity is offered to children in all grade levels, with thirty minutes per classroom group.

Because of logistical constraints, sometimes only grades 1 and 2 may be able to participate in this activity.  Consider having the room available to grades 3 through 6 at recess and/or lunch, staffed by volunteers.  However, our surveys show that this was the favorite AAW activity for grades 4 to 6, so all grades should participate if possible.

Sample script:

We are here today to give you all a chance to try out some equipment that might be used by kids here at school who have some physical problems.  That means these kids or an adult you might one day meet who uses this equipment has difficulty walking.  They could have had an accident or maybe they were born with some type of problem that caused problems with their muscles.  Please remember that sometimes people who are in wheelchairs can walk but maybe they can’t walk for far without becoming tired.  Some kids you might meet use a wheelchair on the playground but they will walk around their classroom.  This can also be true with the kids who use a walker.  Kids may use a walker on the playground because if someone were to bump into them they may not have good balance, and they would fall and get hurt.  In the classroom, people don’t run around bumping into each other so they may not need the walker, or they can walk around using furniture and desks for support.

We thought it would be cool/neat to give all you some time to try three different types of equipment that kids who have some problems physically with their muscles or balance might use.  We set up three stations for you to try, and we promise that everyone will get to try everything.

Let me tell you about each station.  Station one is the wheelchair station.  Here you will sit down in a wheelchair.  First, you put on your seatbelt — just like the one you use in your car.  Second, you take off your brakes on the wheelchair.  (The brakes on used to keep the chair from rolling when you are getting in and out.)  Now, to make the chair move you use the hand rims mounted next to the wheels.  If you push both wheels at the same time, the chair will go straight.  If you push only the left wheel, the chair will turn right, and if you push the right wheel only, the chair will turn to the left.  We want you to move the chair down the cone and then go around the cone and come back to the starting line.  You will then set your brakes, take off the seatbelt and let the next person have a turn.

In station two, we have several different types of walkers for you to try.  Therapists usually pick which type of walker is best for each child/adult.  One of the walkers you can try is called the reverse walker, which is pulled behind you like this.  (Demonstrate.)  This walker provides you with support and balance.  The next type is a forward walker, and it is pushed by a person, like this. (Demonstrate.)  It also provides support and balance to the child.  Also, we have some different types of canes.  These canes can be used as two together or just one at a time.  Using two together gives more support, and one gives less support.  The first canes for us to talk about are called quad canes. Quad means “four”, so please notice the bottom of the cane has four little legs.  The next type of canes/crutches are called Canadian crutches.  They fit on like this and are used like this.  (Demonstrate.)

The last station you will visit is a reacher station.  Sometimes in class you may drop an item on the floor.  How many of you have to ask for help to pick it up?  Probably no one.  Most of you can easily pick up an item on the floor without leaving your seat, or if the item rolls too far away, you get out of your seat to pick it up.   Sometimes, when you are in a wheelchair, you can’t easily get items from the floor.  So that’s what we are going to show you at this station.  You are going to sit in a chair and pick up these items (show them) and put them in this box using the reacher.  Here is how it works.  (Demonstrate.)

Now, we have a lot to do.  Does anyone have any questions?  (Might want to hold questions for the station.  Young children usually don’t have questions but want to share stories, which takes a lot of time.)  As you came into the room, we gave you each a colored yarn necklace.  So can all the red necklaces go to station one, blues to station two and yellows to station three.  Every 7-8 minutes we will rotate the groups.