Prior to having children, I would often become discouraged when caregivers didn’t comply with the home exercise program that I created for their child.
Now that I have three children with one child receiving OT services, I understand how little time caregivers have. Many of us are overwhelmed or exhausted and can’t imagine adding an elaborate exercise program to our routine!
Here are some simple tips to consider when creating a home exercise program as a pediatric therapist.
- Make it valuable. Always state the why of the activity prior to explaining how to perform it. Explaining how the activity will help the patient will encourage caregivers to make it a priority.
- Make it realistic. How much time does the family have per day to complete a home exercise program? If the plan is tailored to the family’s schedule, they’ll be more likely to follow through. Depending on the family this will greatly differ, so always ask before establishing a program!
- Make it practical. Incorporate the activity into everyday activities whenever possible. Change can be difficult and integrating exercises into existing routines will make it easier.
- Make it fun. Kids’ compliance greatly increases if they are having fun! Try making it into a game, making it into a story, adding funny sounds, or adding music.
Here is an example of prescribing a pediatric home exercise program to a caregiver:
In order to improve fine motor coordination, it is very important for Charlie to have more stability and strength in his upper body. Do you have 5 minutes a day this week to help Charlie improve his upper body strength?
Each day right after school could you have Charlie do 3 laps of bear walks around your house? It would be fun if he could search for certain objects for him on his “bear walk”, like find four differently colored leaves!
Caregivers with special needs children are typically overwhelmed between doctor and therapy appointments and everything else they must keep up with! Communication is key in having an effective home exercise program.
5. Ask for feedback regularly and help caregivers feel empowered and equip with a family-centered home program!
Use the Home Education Platform
To make the creation and maintenance of home exercise programs easier, Fusion Web Clinic is launching a powerful new add-on to their pediatric therapy EMR. The goal of Fusion’s Home Education Platform is to provide pediatric therapists with the resources they need to take patient education to the next level.