As part of our world outreach, STAR Physical Therapy partners with Show Hope to help fund crucial physical therapy services for orphans in China. We recently received this update from Jessica Minard, a Physical Therapist that works at Maria’s Big House of Hope. It shows the progress that is being made, but also reminds us that the needs are great…
February PT Update and Overview
Overall things are going great with PT here in China!
I have visited all of the care centers, equipment needs are being met, education of the Ayis is occurring, and development is being stimulated!
The PTAs (2 here and 3 total at other units) are all well trained and treating children ongoing with regular follow up with me. Here at Maria’s, the number they are treating has increased to about 44 children (half seen M,W,F and the other half T,TH). I see the remaining children as well as the children who are only treated by the PTAs 2x/week making it ~45 kiddos that I see regularly in one week. I also perform regular re-evaluations on all the children monthly. That means ~70 children are receiving PT services at Maria’s alone! The other units have numbers of about 12 children at JZ and ~41 in Zheng Zhou requiring regular physical therapy and others given exercise programs for their caregiver Ayis to perform with them. Unfortunately the other units, BJ and NY, do not have PTAs but the numbers of children requiring therapy is lower with ~19 in Nanyang and ~10 in Beijing. The caregiver Ayis in those units have been given education on how to support strengthening, developmental gross motor skills and proper positioning. In efforts to re-evaluate and monitor care regularly, I travel to these other units every 3-6 months.
All of our currently donated tilt-in-space wheelchairs have been fitted and given to children in need here (~10). However there is still a huge need of ~21 children with severe mobility limitations (primarily cerebral palsy) who would benefit from tilt-in-space wheelchairs at Maria’s alone.
Another great need we currently have is for more wheelchairs, but primarily for standing frames. I think each room here (8) should have one standing frame in it that is adjustable and allows all the children with current limitations the ability to stand during the day. Also all the other units will need standing frames as well making that need for approximately 6 more standing frames. The benefits of standing are huge! Not just from a strength and ROM perspective, but also to aid in digestion and bladder function, increase bone density, improve respiration, enhance circulation and blood pressure, stretch muscles / preventing contractures, improve alertness and sleeping patterns, facilitate formation of the hip joint in early development, and pressure relief. This need is partially being met very soon!! (Yeah-a donor is giving funds for ZipZacs and 6 standing frames).
We’ve also made some improvements to the playroom on the 4th floor making it a super fun gross motor play area! There’s a ball pit, foam stairs, ramps, tunnels, balance beams, slides and swings. We have some more plans on adding more sensory stimulating play areas that include lights, music and more textures! We are hoping to incorporate tiles on the floor that light up in response to touch. Our goal is to make this space a fun sensory experience for all of the children of all levels of mobility and needs.
In addition, I have fitted orthotics to several of the children included KAFO, AFOs, SMOs, hand splints, HipHelpers and Benik vests to provide better alignment, ROM, and for sensory needs.
A large percentage of our children here have cerebral palsy with increased limitations in functional mobility and rely on a caregiver for changes in position and for all activities of daily living. I have seen children come here with such high tone and stiffness that their bodies were arched backwards into a C-curve with the inability to move out of this position, decreased tolerance to touch, and very limited ROM. Within a month of daily PT from myself and the PT Ayis and without spasticity medication, these kiddos are now able to move their arms and legs, as well as sit in an upright position with support without arching, and most of all tolerate touch.
So some changes in PT are small (but huge) such as tolerating human touch and interaction while others are larger and easier to see, like a child’s first steps but overall there is a benefit to these children!
Some plans for the New Year include monthly hourly trainings for the Ayis here at Marias (as well as with the other PTAs when I visit their units)! This will allow them to gain knowledge of how the body functions, handling and treatment skills, and overall how to look at these children and see what functional goals we can help them attain. For this program to be sustainable they need as much knowledge as possible so that they too can look at a child and see their potential as well as their other needs (orthotics, equipment, education to caregivers, etc.).