Oct 29, 2020
Physical Therapy During COVID-19
October is National Physical Therapy Month, and this year’s celebration recognizes how different the work of a PT is due to COVID-19.
“As physical therapists, we have used the word “adapt” in the past in numerous ways; to challenge a child to a new skill, create new techniques for a child to achieve a task, and help a family meet a need,” said GWAEA Physical Therapist Ashley Osgood, a physical therapist at Grant Wood Area Education Agency. “Now, we have been given the challenge to “adapt” ourselves.”
School-based physical therapists have always needed to be aware of safety guidelines pertaining to direct support. With these guidelines in mind, and faced with additional restrictions due to COVID-19, the agency’s physical therapy team has adapted their work by utilizing virtual platforms, creating unique strategies to deliver interventions, and enhancing coaching strategies for families. They’ve started using videos and pictures submitted by families and educators to evaluate gait mechanics and help guide intervention activities, and have created educational handouts to help inform caregivers and educators to support students.
One of the most significant adaptations Grant Wood AEA’s PTs have made due to COVID-19 is their efforts to extend services to the student's home environment. “I’ve always loved that my job revolves around helping students access their educational environment for participation in things that matter to them.” says Audrey Mensen. “And now, we’re seeing that the continuity across multiple settings has had a great impact on the students. We’ve been able to strengthen our relationships with their families, too.”
Sarah Waskow, a physical therapist in Grant Wood AEA’s Early ACCESS program, echoes an appreciation for this new approach to physical therapy. “Over the summer we’ve seen one family build a swing set at their home that was completely accessible to their son with safety harnesses and equipped to help promote gross motor skills.” Sarah states. “We supported two students with learning how to ride adapted hand and foot drive bikes so they can now ride bikes with their siblings around the neighborhood.” She goes on to explain how rewarding it has been for the physical therapy team to empower families, experience their child’s first steps, and gain independence.
Although physical therapy looks different during this unprecedented school year, Grant Wood AEA has a strong group of physical therapists that support each other and truly want what’s best for every child. This positivity and willingness to adapt makes this National Physical Therapy Month a special recognition.