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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Making Physical Therapy Kid-Friendly

Published April 12, 2010 3:33 PM by Cheryl McEvoy

Kids have quite the imagination, but instead of tossing their ideas to whimsy, we may want to put them in action.

An 11-year-old boy is credited with finding a new way to make physical therapy more entertaining for children: bring on the bubble wrap. His approach, "Physical Therapy Step, Push and Pop" encourages PTs to place bubble wrap on the ground between parallel bars--a strengthening tool often used in PT practices. The plastic pops give patients a burst of good vibes (like you never tore through delivery boxes in search of those poppers?) and may even help PTs gauge how much pressure patients are putting on their feet.

The invention, which is a semifinalist in the Bubble Wrap Competition for Young Inventors, was the boy's second idea, after floating bubble wrap shoes flopped. He talked to a PT, got inspired and voila! If only innovation were so easy.

Sure, the pops could be agitating, and enthusiasm could deflate over time, but let's give the boy credit for a novel idea. It's a reminder that pediatric physical therapy should, in some ways, be fun. And that means going straight to source, i.e. those tykes trolling around the waiting room. I certainly tap danced on my share of bubble wrap, but would I think to make it a physical therapy approach? Nope. Turns out, we may be better off leaving the visionary stuff to kids.

Does your practice have any innovative, kid-friendly approaches? What are some ways you keep children entertained and engaged during their physical therapy sessions?

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